Army Corps of Engineers Won’t Bail Out Toms River After Nor’easter Eroded Ortley Beach

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – Toms River taxpayers will have to foot the bill to replenish tons of sand washed out to sea during last weekend’s nor’easter that eroded the beach at Ortley Beach leaving high ledges and cliffs at the base of the dune system.

This week, Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill said he would ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fast track a planned fall 2022 replenishment project. Instead, he was told the federal government won’t arrive until 2023, and possibly late in the year or early into 2024.

The Army Corps of Engineers is already two years behind their scheduled replenishment project agreed upon after Superstorm Sandy.

Ortley Beach has long been a source of trouble for the northern Ocean County shore area as mother nature repeatedly tries to reclaim the land that has been an inlet off and on throughout history.

Residents of Ortley Beach said the beach in Ortley keeps getting smaller and smaller after each storm. One resident asked how the township could sell 2,200 beach badges already for the 2022 season, with the beach only being a few feet wide at this point.

It seems the town and the federal government have been fighting a battle against mother nature for centuries. In 1750 an inlet appeared opposite the Toms River near the existing border of Seaside Heights and Ortley Beach. That inlet today is referred to as the Cranberry Inlet.

That inlet remained open for about sixty years until it was closed by nature again in 1812. Over the years, there have been several man-made attempts to reopen an inlet to access the bay in that area, but all proved to be futile. In 1821 Michael Ortley successfully channeled an inlet across the barrier island in the present-day area of Ortley Beach, north of the original Cranberry Inlet. After working on the inlet for years, mother nature closed it up the day after it was opened.

In 1847, another attempt was made to create an inlet closer to the original Cranberry Inlet. That attempt also failed after the inlet quickly filled up with sand. In the 1920s, the Point Pleasant Canal was opened allowing a northern access point to the Barnegat Bay.

Now, mother nature appears to be working once again to push through Ortley Beach, and at this point, the town’s only plan is to keep dumping more sand on the beach, so it can be washed out in the next storm. It’s not global warming as most of the other beaches along the Jersey Shore were not as impacted as Ortley Beach during the last storm. In fact the shorelines at many central and southern Ocean County beaches have expanded greatly since the 1800s.

During Superstorm Sandy, mother nature once again accomplished the job by breaching the barrier island in several areas. Those natural inlets were quickly shored up in the days and weeks after the storm.

Now, mother nature is working again to push through Ortley Beach and Toms River has to scramble to find a solution to once again truck in tons of sand from the mainland to replenish the beach as the federal government’s replenishment project appears to be on the verge of being pushed back yet again.