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Environmental Survey of Potential Sand Resource Sites: Offshore New Jersey

The purpose of this study is to address environmental issues raised by the potential for dredging sand from the inner continental shelf offshore New Jersey for beach replenishment purposes. In cooperation with the State, the MMS has identified eight potential sites of high-quality sand deposits in Federal waters. The primary environmental concerns focused on biological and physical components of the environment. To this end, seven study objectives were identified, including: 1) compile and analyze existing oceanographic literature and data sets to develop an understanding of baseline environmental conditions offshore New Jersey and the ramifications of dredging operations at selected sand borrow sites; 2) design and conduct biological field data collection efforts to supplement existing resources; 3) analyze physical and biological field data sets to address basic environmental concerns regarding potential sand dredging operations; 4) use physical processes data sets and wave climate simulations to predict wave transformation under natural conditions and in the presence of proposed dredging activities; 5) determine existing coastal and nearshore sediment transport patterns using historical data sets, and predict future changes resulting from proposed sand dredging operations; 6) evaluate the potential environmental effects of multiple dredging scenarios; and 7) evelop a document summarizing the information generated to assist with decisions concerning preparation of an Environmental Assessment/Impact Statement to support a negotiated agreement.

Applied Coastal personnel focused on study objectives 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7 using previously collected coastal data sets (shoreline, bathymetry, coastal processes) and wave transformation numerical modeling results. Sediment transport estimates along the shoreline and in the nearshore were determined from wave and current analyses, as well as historical shoreline and bathymetric change data sets. The information gathered and analyzed during the course of this study will enable MMS to monitor and assess the potential impacts of offshore dredging activities and to identify ways in which dredging operations can be conducted to minimize or preclude long-term adverse impacts to the environment.

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