OK, the grass has been cut on the Atlantic City dunes that some say are too high.

The state Department of Environmental Protection agreed to cut two to three feet of dune grass, and the initial reviews are good. The sightlines to the ocean have been vastly improved in some spots.

And folks, that's about as good as it is going to get. Let's move on.

Initially, we were among the critics of these dunes, which were built in 2004 to be 14.75 feet high (as opposed to 12.75 feet in neighboring Ventnor). The dunes do, in fact, block ocean views and ocean breezes in many places along the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

But several points need to be made.

One, this situation is hardly unique. Dunes block views of the ocean on Cape Cod, in the Carolinas, in many places in Florida and elsewhere.

The issue, of course, as Richard Stockton College of New Jersey geologist Stewart Farrell has said, is: How much shore protection do you want? The taller the dune, the more protection.

Critics of Atlantic City's dunes are willing to trade off some protection for better views and ocean breezes. But that brings us to our second point:

The Army Corps of Engineers is not willing to make that tradeoff - and, like it or not, the Army Corps calls the shots here.

The corps bases dune height on a formula that considers storm patterns and the value of the property and infrastructure the dunes are protecting. Why is the corps such a stickler about its formula? Because if it didn't adhere to a formula - if the corps just winged it (something military engineers aren't inclined to do) - it could be accused of wasting taxpayer dollars by not designing projects according to a defensible metric. The corps takes this stuff seriously, as it should.

Perhaps it should tweak its formula when designing future projects, but the corps is not about to revisit the Atlantic City design.

Finally, the state DEP is bound by its contract with the Army Corps to maintain the dunes at their designed height. Going in with bulldozers and taking a couple of feet off the top would leave the state vulnerable to a lawsuit and put federal shore-protection funds at risk.

In fact, the DEP deserves praise for agreeing to the idea of trimming the dune grass and then getting the job done.

So let's all be happy for that.

The only way these Atlantic City dunes are going to get significantly lower is if Mother Nature does it - and if that happens, the resort is looking at a whole new set of problems.

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