The Government Views Your Beach as Valuable Hurricane Protection
FORT MYERS - Beach nourishment is the process of placing sand on an eroding beach to provide a protective buffer against storm and wave damage or to enhance the recreational and/or environmental value of the beach.
The federal government first became involved in beach nourishment efforts in 1930 by enacting a law that (1) authorized the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to conduct shoreline erosion control studies and (2) established the Beach Erosion Board (BEB) to assemble data and provide technical expertise regarding coastal protection.
"The primary thrust behind the federal government's interest in nourishing beaches is reducing coastal storm damages," says Joan Pope, civil works program director for the U.S. Army Core of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center. "But they also take into consideration public ownership of land adjacent to the beach, public access, and the recreational and environmental value of the beach."
Essentially, the federal government views beach restoration as a tool to protect development and infrastructure.
"The sand and dunes on a beach are actually sacrificial when it comes to storm protection," Pope says. "The federal government engages in beach restoration when it is less expensive to replenish sand and vegetation than it is to replace the homes, businesses, infrastructure, utilities and potential lost revenue of an established community. A well-nourished beach helps protect the development and infrastructure behind it."
Usually the federal and local government share the cost of nourishing a beach. Generally, the federal government pitches in 65 percent and the state and local government puts in the remaining 35 percent - but those numbers vary based on the cost sharing agreement enacted for that particular project.
One important condition; however, is that in order for a beach nourishment project to qualify for federal funding, the beach must have public access. The federal government will not fund any nourishment project of privately owned coastal property that does not have public access.
"The process is more effective than scientists and engineers realized in the early days of beach renourishment," Pope said. "It's really taking hold now, and we are learning more and more every day about how to protect our nation's shorelines."
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