Kaine sympathetic to Tangier erosion problem but no promises yet

September 6, 2022
 |
Tangier Harbor

Senator Tim Kaine visited Tangier Island last week  and while he was sympathetic to the plight of the Island, he could make no promises on Federal help with the erosion problem that has plagued the island.

A $25 million investment has been proposed to help slow the erosion on Tangier Island. The investment would be used for a dredging project that would place dredged material from the Virginia part of the Chesapeake Bay onto the island. The project is not a done deal, but islanders hope it is soon. One of the main reasons islanders want it done quickly is because it’s starting to affect the crabbing sheds.

According to an article on WBOC.com, Tangier’s Vice Mayor Norwood Evans said, “our seas come in shore farther and that’s starting to encroach on top of the crab buildings that we have out there that sheds our soft shell crabs. Any restoration work we can have done to help protect their inside harbor and all is a benefit for the watermen and the island itself.”

The erosion is so bad in Canton Ridge, that areas where land used to be are completely submerged. Wildlife have also been affected, as they’ve seen much of their habitats disappear over the last 20 years. Loss of habitat is just one of the reasons Vice Mayor Evans wants this project to move forward.

“It’ll help build embankments up and stop the surge coming, and then it will also help with the turtles that nest in the area,” said Evans.

Before anything can happen, however, the plan needs congressional approval.

“We’re not there yet,” said U.S Senator Tim Kaine. “I got to get it through the senate and then I got to rely on Congresswoman Luria on the house side, and we’ll make this happen.”

In recent years, residents had watched with frustration as the federal government funded projects to protect a National Wildlife Refuge and residents on nearby Smith Island and restore a wildlife habitat on Poplar Island in Talbot County Maryland where no people live.

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The problem is that these projects require a degree of local participation financially and neither the Town of Tangier, population 400 nor Accomack County has the resources to partially fund what could become a $250 million project to restore the land.

The $25 million however is the result of Congress bringing back earmarks, where Senators and Representatives can request funding for projects in their districts.

Any dredging project would have to depend on spoils from the dredging of ship channels in the Bay.

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