The Environmental Defense Fund Weighs In On The Legality of Closing The Old Inlet / Breach

Last month, Jim Tripp of the The Environmental Defense Fund  drafted a letter addressed to The Department of Interior, The National Parks Service, The Fire Island National Seashore, The Army Corps of Engineers, and The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.      In it, he argues that The Breach Contingency Plan, adopted in 1996 and extended in 2007, must be interpreted in light of previous documents pertaining to the protection of wilderness areas, and that before any action is taken to close The Old Inlet, the following would by law have to happen:


“It thus appears to us that any determination reached in regards to breach closure requires a) a full Environmental Impact Statement, b) a public meeting, conducted to review alternatives, and c) a determination that closure is necessary to prevent “loss of life, flooding, and other severe economic and physical damage to the Great South Bay and surrounding areas.”  Compliance with NEPA through an EIS allows for the disclosure and assessment of the type of scientific evidence necessary to meet Wilderness Act and Otis Pike Act obligations.  Likewise, the enunciated threshold determination allows for human intrusion in only limited circumstances, thus ensuring that the Wilderness Act’s preference to maintain a designated area’s ‘wilderness character’ remains intact.  Our understanding would appear to be consistent with both the intent and specific language in the applicable laws and Plans noted above. ”

The complete document is here:

EDF legal letter on Old Inlet Letter 041013