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Report: Keeping New Fire Island Inlet Open is Paying Off

Researchers say water quality improved, new fish species returning to Great South Bay.

The new Fire Island inlet in late 2012. Photo by Judy Mottl/Patch.
The new Fire Island inlet in late 2012. Photo by Judy Mottl/Patch.
Water quality in the Great South Bay has improved, once-gone fish species are returning and there is no danger posed to south shore communities from the new inlet created by super storm Sandy in October, 2012, according to a new Stony Brook University research report.

In fact, the report, which was posted to the Facebook Page of the University's School of Marine and Atmosphere Sciences on Friday, states the inlet helped stem an incident of brown tide this past summer due to its growth and flushing activity.

“The initial fears of increased flooding have not materialized while changes in the water quality within the immediate area have been clearly beneficial,” states the report, written by Charles N. Flagg, Roger Flood and Robert Wilson at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University. The report is available for download by clicking here.

The creation of the new inlet, near the Fire Island Old Inlet, has been a hotly contested topic since Sandy hit the south shore, devastating many homes and creating havoc along the shoreline.

The debate of what to do—keep it open, close it—raged in both the scientific and marine communities, as well the lawmaking realm but the Fire Island National Park Service ultimately decided to leave the new inlet as is.

“It is much too early to say that the ecology of the area has recovered, it will take years for the sea grass beds and hard clams to re-establish themselves," concludes the report.

"And it is important to keep an eye on this evolving system, as we and others are doing, to support science-based decision-making. But it does appear at this point that the gamble the Park Service made by leaving open the breach in the wilderness area has paid off."

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