Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Professor Christopher Gobler, PhD, testified before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment in support of passage of a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) is the ranking minority member on the Subcommittee. The WRDA would authorize projects related to the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Program, the nation’s largest water resources program, which includes environmental restoration projects.
Dr. Gobler’s testimony, presented April 16 in Washington, D.C., addressed ecosystem and aquatic ecosystem restoration, shoreline protection, and water quality improvement. He shared information gained from his Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program and lessons learned in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Dr. Gobler described the importance of high, well-vegetated dunes on the ocean side of barrier islands to protect communities from storm surge. And, he noted that salt marshes on the bay side of the islands stabilized the islands and provided protection from flooding. In contrast, he described the devastation that communities without dune-marsh systems experienced when storm waves swept onto shore and destroyed boardwalks and other structures. He also emphasized the environmental benefits of restoring bivalve and seagrass populations in degraded estuaries.
Dr. Gobler urged the Subcommittee to invest in restoring coastline dunes and wetland systems to provide a natural protective barrier to coastal communities. He noted the critical importance of the coast not only for environmental benefit, but also for the economic benefit associated with coastal communities throughout the United States. His testimony will be considered as the Subcommittee seeks to reauthorize the WRDA in the coming months.