Barrier Islands: To Build Or Not To Build?

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Barrier Islands: To build or not to build?

The position that I stand on for construction on barrier islands is a negative. I believe that people shouldn't build anything on barrier islands and instead protect them. "Why" do you ask? Well let me tell you the a little bit about these islands.

"For starters barrier islands serve two primary main functions. First, they�protect the coastlines from severe storm damage. Second, they�harbor several habitats that are refuges for wildlife. Barrier islands are long, narrow, offshore deposits of sand or sediments that parallel the coast line. Some barrier islands can extend for 100 miles (160 km) or more. The islands are separated from the main land by a shallow sound,�bay�or�lagoon. Barrier islands are often found in chains along the coast line and are separated from each other by narrow�tidal inlets, such as the Outer Banks of North Carolina."

"The formation of barrier islands is complex and not completely understood. The current theory is that barrier islands were formed about 18,000 years ago when the last Ice Age ended. As the glaciers melted and receded, the sea levels began to rise, and flooded areas behind the beach ridges at that time. The rising waters carried sediments from those beach ridges and deposited them along shallow areas just off the new coast lines. Waves and currents continued to bring in sediments that built up, forming the barrier islands. In addition, rivers washed sediments from the mainland that settled behind the islands and helped build them up."

"Yes, barrier islands change even over a short period of time. In fact, they are often referred to as nomadic landforms, as they are constantly changing in shape, size, height, and location-all in response to the forces of wind, waves, currents, sea level changes, storms, and the amount of sediment carried there from land and sea. For example, the Virginia barrier islands off the East Coast of the United States have retreated landward in the past 100 years-and many islands no longer exist (they have become part of the mainland)."

"Barrier Island habitats, even though barrier islands are pretty narrow, they have several distinct habitats. There is the beach habitat which include burrowing animals like mole crabs and clams that filter-feed during high tides, burrowing worms that feed on bacteria in the sand, scavenging crabs (ghost crabs) and various shorebirds (sandpipers, seagulls and pelicans) that eat the crabs, burrowing animals and offshore fish. Next is the dune habitat, along the dunes, you will...

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