On April 23, U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R–PA) submitted a joint bipartisan letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R. D. James, requesting that beach nourishment for Presque Isle State Park remain a high-priority project for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2019 budget and 2018 work plan.
Continued sand erosion has been a safety risk on Presque Isle, a seven-mile stretch of shoreline along Lake Erie, for some time. The letter highlighted that erosion issues has increased the risk for beach closures, caused public safety concerns and threatens the environment, endangered species and personal property on Presque Isle.
In 2015, the Corps Buffalo District conducted a study to look at the movement of sediment along the Presque Isle Bay shoreline. The particle tracer study would determine if material dredged from Erie Harbor Shipping Channel could be used to nourish and enhance the shoreline growth on the peninsula. For more on that study, read the story here.
In February 2016, the Corps announced that the study and demonstration project would not continue. After evaluating the sediment samples from Erie Harbor, the Corps said, “It was determined that differences in grain size distributions between the Erie Harbor dredged sediment and the nearshore lake bottom sediments at proposed placement locations could result in adverse aquatic habitat impacts to the nearshore environment of Gull Point.” The Corps statement said that project partners and stakeholders also conveyed their concern that the activities would impact the environment and ecology of Presque Isle. The Corps discontinued the project and said it would pursue other beneficial use opportunities in the region.
Kelly’s letter noted that continued federal funding is needed to combat the effects of erosion. The letter was co-signed by Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), and U.S. Senators Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
Kelly is a former chairman of the Great Lakes Task Force and also co-signed a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies to request $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
In 2017, Kelly and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Peter DeFazio (D—OR) introduced H.R. 1908, Investing in America: Unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The bill called for directing the port tax on goods to go back to ports for maintenance and capital improvements. The bill was introduced to the House in April 2017 and referred to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.