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Mar 17, 2009 5:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Millions for East End in Congress spending plan

Mar 17, 2009 5:56 PM

A federal appropriations bill currently winding its way through Congress includes more than $4 million in funding for environmental and waterways projects in eastern Brookhaven, Southampton and East Hampton towns.

If approved as proposed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Obama, the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, according to U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, will fund a number of dredging projects and studies of local waterways such as the Forge River, Moriches Inlet and Montauk Harbor and inlet.

The bill has been approved by the House of Representatives and is being reviewed by the Senate. Once approved, President Obama is expected to sign it quickly, possibly as early as this week, Mr. Bishop said.

Included in the bill is $3.2 million for dredging Shinnecock Inlet, which will restore the channel through the offshore sandbar and address shoaling in the inlet fairway. A minor dredging project at Moriches Inlet is also expected to cost $100,000 and is funded by the bill.

Another $650,000 will go to maintenance dredging of Montauk Harbor. Shoaling has made the inlet to the harbor—the state’s largest commercial seafood port—dangerous and nearly impassable for large fishing boats in foul weather. The bill also includes $119,000 to study possible solutions to the shoaling at the inlet. About $190,000 will also go to studies planned by the Army Corps of Engineers at Montauk Point in anticipation of the expansion of the revetment that protects the Montauk Lighthouse.

The federal spending will also feed $500,000 to the Nature Conservancy for work on restoring eelgrass beds in the Peconic Estuary.

The bill also includes $2.5 million for the completion of the long-awaited Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study—a broad master plan for erosion, storm protection and flood control measures along the barrier beaches and bayside communities of eastern Long Island.

A study of environmental conditions and problems in the Forge River, a tributary off western Moriches Bay in Brookhaven Town, is also funded, to the tune of $196,000, according to Mr. Bishop’s office.

michael wright

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