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This Presidents Day, move George’s Montauk lighthouse

February 18 2008 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

In 1796 George Washington commissioned the Montauk lighthouse. I believe it was expected to last 200 years and... that 200 years are up.

Today there is a fight to preserve the lighthouse. This makes me think of two words: managed retreat.

The managed retreat concept is straightforward, don't fight the ocean.

If a structure was built too close to the ocean (or the ocean has advanced toward the structure) then you simply move the structure. It's easier to do that than move the ocean. I don't mean to oversimplify the "just move it" statement. It isn't always easy but it IS almost always possible.

But... move a lighthouse? Sure, it has been done before and it will be done again. We all know better than to build on shifting sands. And we've seen time and time and time again that a seawall may offer a band-aid to a single nearby property but that assistance is always at the expense of other beaches and other resources. Sand is a zero sum game, if you rob Peter to pay Paul... then Peter sues, Paul countersues, and the beat goes on.

The Eastern Long Island chapter site on this issue.


NYT video

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