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Sen. Carper pushes for increased focus on beach replenishment and coastal restoration

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

Sen. Tom Carper visited Slaughter Beach to discuss beach replenishment and coastal restoration Tuesday.

His visit came just days after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projected the United States will experience as much sea level rise in the next 30 years as it saw in the past 100 years.

DNREC says that's a major concern in the First State, the nation’s lowest lying state, where the coastline can no longer adapt to rising waters easily. That could lead to increased erosion and tidal surges that affect coastal communities.

Carper, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, says it's important to act quickly to restore coastline and make it more resilient.

“We want to make sure that 100 years from now, 100,000 years from now, that this place will still be here, these beaches will still be here, and that people can still enjoy Delaware as they do today,” Carper said.

The loss of critical habitats along Delaware’s shore is also a cause for concern. Carper says that would not only affect wildlife, but tourism in the First State.

Horseshoe crab slaughter beach
Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media
Horseshoe crabs found on Slaughter Beach

“A lot of the tourism, we think that people come to the beaches, they come to swim, to fish, to surf- a lot of people come to Delaware, to our beaches and our natural wildlife preserves, they come here for ecotourism,” noted Carper. “And they come from all over the world, to see the horseshoe crabs here, to see the little red knot birds who fly all the way from the North Pole to the South Pole.”

Habitat loss threatens the survival of the horseshoe crab, and the red knot, which feeds on the crabs' eggs during its migration that draws crowds each spring.

Carper and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester are among the lawmakers who recently introduced the Shoreline Health Oversight, Restoration, Resilience, and Enhancement Act (SHORRE) Act.

It would bolster the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ coastal storm risk

management and ecosystem restoration programs - with an emphasis on developing resilient and sustainable projects.