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STONE HARBOR - At a special meeting of Stone Harbor Borough Council Oct. 10, Stone Harbor’s governing body decided not to participate in a program that would've taken sand from the dunes to replenish beaches.

The dilemma confronting the borough stems from a 3-year-old decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that bans the borrowing of sand from Hereford Inlet. Until then, the inlet was the primary borrow area for federal hydraulic beach replenishment projects in the borough.

Without the ability to take sand from Hereford Inlet, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection offered Stone Harbor an option of taking sand from the highest dunes and moving it seaward over the beaches. The plan called for lowering the dunes to within two feet of the 2005 federal template levels.

Council discussion of the option focused on the one-time nature of the solution since sand would not be able to be taken from the dunes a second time. Council members feared that they would lower the protective dunes at a time when the borough is embarking on a series of moves to better protect the island community from sea-level rise and frequent severe storms.

“Once we take that sand, you can’t get it back,” said Council member Raymond Parzych, referring to the risk that sand removed from the dunes and placed on the beaches could be lost to winter storms before next summer.

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