West Destin, FL: The project endured significant controversy, misinformation, litigation, and project challenges, which nevertheless led to the construction of a well-performing hallmark of beach restoration. Through sound project planning, design, construction administration, and significant public outreach, the success of the project helped to alter the local perspective of beach nourishment by easing concerns of maintaining the natural sand quality, beach aesthetic, and economic productivity.
The restoration project provides substantial economic and ecological benefits to the community, it has achieved short- and long-term success, and the sponsors and project team overcame significant political and environmental challenges during the course of the project. The Western Destin Beach Restoration Project also accomplished multiple objectives typically associated with a beach restoration project — increased storm protection, erosion mitigation, habitat restoration, recreational benefits to the community, and economic resiliency for the region.
“We chose West Destin as an example of a project that overcame numerous challenges to become a well-performing project with significant economic and ecological benefits.”
Folly Beach, SC: In August 2011, after Hurricane Irene passed off the coast of South Carolina and rendered certain facilities at Folly Beach County Park inaccessible, the park was closed and public access and parking for over 400 cars on the west end of Folly Island was eliminated. The stabilization project restored the beach and allowed the reopening of one of Charles-ton's most important public beaches. Without this project, the park would now be closed.
Additionally, this Best Restored Beach provided a beach and dune area that facilitated sea turtle nesting and shorebird habitat on the west end of Folly Island. Skimmer Flats, a major Eastern Brown Pelican rookery, is adjacent to the park site so restoring the beach was important to that population as well. The key element of the plan was construction of a terminal groin to retain sand.
“As Charleston’s beach, the loss of the county park access was a loss to the whole community. This project returns gave them back their recreational beach and had an added benefit to sea turtles and pelicans making it a Best Restored Beach”
Galveston, TX: The Dellanera Park End of Seawall beach nourishment project is not a large or overwhelming project compared to other projects completed around the country but it is the “little project that could” by succeeding where a proposed $42 million project could not. It truly is a precedent setting accomplishment and is the roadmap that future projects will be measured against in Galveston and possibly the entire state depending on the future application of the Courts Severance decision.
Through the tireless and united efforts of local officials and the Texas General Land Office, a publicly funded project was completed on the beaches of west Galveston Island where just five years before a Texas Supreme Court decision had resulted in the cancellation of that $42,million; 6-mile project. Prevailing wisdom said a project using public funding could not be built on Galveston Island and the Dellanera Park- End of Seawall Beach Nourishment/Dune Restoration Project served to disprove that thought.
“This project really is about when you get lemons, make lemonade. We chose this project for overcoming complicated issues to protect an evacuation route and provide recreation area.”
Santa Monica State Beach, CA: For nearly 130 years, Santa Monica State Beach in Santa Monica, California, has been a dynamic link between the natural and man-made worlds, providing equal access to all who wish to congregate near this part of the coast. The existing wide beach in Santa Monica owes its existence primarily to the offshore breakwater. North Beach is characterized by an abundance of sand and sweeping views of Santa Monica Bay. South Beach is alive with popular “people places” such as Chess Park and the original Muscle Beach. It is here that the modern Southern California “beach culture” – surfing, beach volleyball, rollerblading, lifeguards, skateboarding, and spectacular sunsets – got its start. The historic Santa Monica Pier connects the more contemplative North Beach with lively South Beach. Up to 50,000 people enjoy the beach on a typical summer day – five million visits annually – making it one of the region’s most treasured public assets.
We chose this Best Restored Beach because it is an iconic American Beach that has not only hosted millions of visitors each year, but is used in movies and television programs to exemplify the beach life.”
South Hutchinson Island/St. Lucie County, FL: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had completed a Reconnaissance Study of the south county beaches, concluding that a basis existed for a potential federal project, a first step in the process. In September 2004, St. Lucie County suffered the impact on the beaches of both Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne within a period of 21 days. The community determined they could not wait for the Feasibility Study and requested the County construct an interim non-federal project as storm protection for upland property. Through multiple public meetings and public engagement the project received 100% of the 51 easements needed for project construction. The planning for this project came during a time when methods for calculating the environmental impacts to nearshore hard bottom were being heavily debated between the regulatory agencies and the regulated community. This period of uncertainty required significant perseverance by all parties involved in the project. The USACE subsequently initiated a Feasibility Study which was re-scoped and approved in 2014.
“This is a Best Restored Beach, because the community responded to the loss of both storm protection and recreation to move forward with an interim project.”
Aquia Landing County Park, Stafford County, VA: The park location and adjacent bluff is an important heritage area to the Patawomack Native American Tribe (famous as the tribe visited by Captain John Smith and home clan of Pocahontas). It also is one of the earliest beach projects in the United States to use near shore breakwaters and the "headland beach" approach to protect eroding lands and to create a recreational resource. Most significantly, the Aquia Landing restored beach has served the citizens of Stafford County and Northern Virginia for 27 years while weathering hurricanes and storms, with minimal need for maintenance, while amply fulfilling its intended purpose. Aquia Landing exemplifies how a small, "sheltered-shores" restored beach can be an important and vital part of the community that it serves.
Said Weishar: “We chose Aquia because this project combined two important aspects of beach nourishment: They combined off shore breakwaters with beach nourishment to enhance and protect a barrier beach while at the same time providing an enhanced recreation beach that is heavily used.”
Cocoa Beach, Brevard County, FL: Overcoming decades of frustration, a diverse group of stakeholders combined innovation with determination to restore this highly eroded 9.4 miles of shoreline far ahead of schedule during the first restoration in 2000. Since then, the beach has exceeded expectations in the face of extraordinary storm events in 2004 and 2012, turning a shoreline lined with seawalls and rock revetments into one of wide beaches and flourishing dunes, drawing tourists and turtles alike to its inviting sandy shores.
Said Weishar: “Cocoa Beach caught our eye because it established wide dunes and beaches where in previous years erosion had completely eliminated the beaches and dunes. The new beach is absolutely fabulous. Additionally, many thousands of people using these beaches most likely have no clue that this is a restored beach. This will provide Brevard County a chance to educate the many lucky folks that get to use the beaches.”
Iroquois Point Beach, Oahu, HI: The Iroquois Point beach nourishment project turned a deteriorated and chronically eroding shoreline, which contributed to a degraded nearshore marine environment, into a beautiful and stable sand beach community recreational resource and greatly improved marine habitat.
Located on the south shore of the island of Oahu, immediately west of the Pearl Harbor entrance channel, the 4,200-foot-long project shoreline had been eroding for more than 80 years, receding up to 300 feet at the west end, resulting in the need to relocate sewer and other utility lines. In recent years, accelerated shoreline and red earthen erosion had resulted in sediment plumes that chronically clouded the waters along the Iroquois Point shoreline.
Said Weishar: “This is a project which overcame obstacles to get completed. It combined T-head groins and beach nourishment to re-establish a beach where previously there was only a very narrow beach. Let’s face it, who could not love a Hawaiian beach.”
North Topsail Beach, NC: North Topsail Beach is a poster child for communities that struggle with small-town politics, environmental opposition, and the financial means to undertake a major capital project to show that, even when the odds are against you, persistence and ingenuity can result in a successful shoreline management program. Residents, recognizing that wide sandy beaches were their area’s best asset, decided that curbing the loss of beach was critical to their future – not only to afford our residents and visitors with recreation and access to the ocean, but also to protect properties from storm damage.
Said Weishar: “North Topsail Beach re-established a beach that was providing critical storm damage prevention to homes located on the beach, nourishing the beach while providing a wide recreational beach for the residents. We like this project because it provides sand to a starved system, provides storm damage protection – and it looks great.”
Delray Beach, FL: Since the initial beach nourishment in 1973, Delray Beach has made a major comeback. Once at risk of being overtaken by the ocean, Highway A1A and its neighboring properties have been protected by the widened beach. Delray Beach is known throughout the United States as a desirable beach destination, making it an important economic asset to both the city and state. Since 1973, the beach has had five periodic renourishment project and one storm damage repair project in 2005. Delray Beach continues to provide storm protection for the upland roads and buildings, recreational beach areas for both residents and tourists, and environmental habitat for nesting sea turtles and shorebirds. The beach has performed better with every project and is the quintessential example of a beach nourishment success story.
Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, MA: The Edgartown Beach and Dune Restoration Project has been a huge success for public and private stakeholders alike. The multi-faceted regional dredging and beach nourishment project has increased the width of the recreation beach on both the private and public beaches from several feet to several hundred feet over the three-year length of the project. In addition to the much-needed storm damage protection and flood control that the regional nourishment project has provided to the state highway and badly eroding public and private barrier beaches, the Cow Bay Beach has become a destination for endangered nesting shorebirds.
Although the project was plagued with regulatory hurdles, insufficient sand volumes, very narrow dredging windows and strict marine fisheries restrictions, the obstacles were overcome – and the frequently overwashed, badly eroding barrier beaches within the project limits have been successfully restored and functioning beyond expectation.
Long Beach, CT: Long Beach West is a highlight-worthy project on several fronts including the ecological benefits the site brings to its community, the complexity of the restoration work accomplished, the challenges overcome during the course of the project and the short and long term success of the project.
This site is one of the largest remaining stretches of barrier beach in coastal Connecticut, providing shelter and protection to the adjacent 700-acre salt marsh system. The site provides critical nesting habitat for federally threatened piping plovers and state threatened least terns, is an important migratory bird stopover area, and is home to five state-listed plant species as well as critical shellfish beds.
The restoration of the site entailed complete removal of all hazardous materials including lead, asbestos, and PCBs, as well as the houses and debris, preventing contamination on nearby federal lands and surrounding coastal habitat. In total the restoration team removed 37 bungalows, 25 outbuildings, four docks and piles of trash and hazardous materials. Approximately 85 % of the debris removed from the site was successfully recycled.
Nags Head Beach, NC: Why is Nags Head’s beach the best restored beach in the United States? Because it is a survivor – figuratively and literally. The first of its kind on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, even before construction began the Nags Head’s project had to overcome hurdles such as the perception that beach nourishment was not a feasible alternative for the area. But, with storms of varying degrees continually washing away property and streets, and firefighters having to evacuate people from homes nearly entirely surrounded by the ocean during larger storms, Nags Head had to take action.
Before Nags Head’s nourishment project was completed in the fall of 2011, it had to survive its first test – Hurricane Irene. With no loss of sand from the nourishment area during the storm, the project provided much needed protection from Irene’s high surf. A little more than a year later, the project again proved its worth when Hurricane Sandy skirted Nags Head, resulting in little damage and negligible overwash into the streets. Unfortunately, other communities on the Outer Banks who had not yet nourished their beach did not fare as well as Nags Head.
Today, Nags Head’s beach nourishment project is considered to be a success and the area continues to thrive as a result. The project has been so popular locally that several other Outer Banks communities are now looking into developing their own nourishment projects.
Pelican Island, LA: Recognizing the Pelican Island Restoration Project as a top restored beach provides a different view of beach restoration, one that acknowledges that beaches are a critical part of the environment and habitat protection. The Louisiana Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority (CPRA) and National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recognized that restoring Pelican Island was important for the environmental aspects of this project. Pelican Island acts as a first line of protection for Louisiana, reducing storm surges and maintaining an estuarine gradient within the bays behind. The Island also provides protection for significant shellfish beds that produce commercially valuable products.
Restoring Pelican Island was also a lynch-pin project for the maintaining the barrier island shoreline of Barataria. If this project had not been conceived and moved through to construction the efforts to restore the adjacent shorelines, thereby re-establishing a 19-mile expanse of this shoreline may have merely been determined unfeasible. It was the action to boldly go forward with the challenging project that made the investment in the effort worthwhile and will likely have major far-reaching effects into the future of the southeast coastal Louisiana.
Sargent Beach, TX: The Sargent Beach project could be called “the little project that could.” It was not only constructed in an interesting and constantly changing scenario of challenges to the Texas Open Beaches Act, but it also met all the “Goals and Objectives, as outlined in the Preliminary Engineering Report for Sargent East:
- Better protection of upland property and infrastructure both public and private from storm surge and wave damage,
- Increased storm protection to the downdrift beaches due to the increased amount of sand in the littoral system,
- Re-creation of natural dune habitat and restoration of the dynamic benefits of a functioning beach-dune system, and
- Creation of a beach seaward of the USACE revetment and seawall to provide dry beach area available to the public for recreation and boost tourism.”
Venice Beach, CA: Iconic Venice Beach, located between Santa Monica Beach and Marina del Rey, is a major tourist and recreational destination in Los Angeles County. The beach spans approximately 2.5 miles and offers ample opportunity for sunbathing, surfing, swimming, and people-watching. Facilities along the beach include a skateboard park, a pedestrian walkway and bike path, paved parking lots, basketball courts, the famed muscle beach fitness area, and the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Division Headquarters.
Venice Beach is subject to erosion that threatens the amenities that provide safe and enjoyable public access to the coast. This section of the shoreline has been nourished several times over the past 80 years. But before the 2011 restoration effort, sand had not been placed on the beach since the 1970s. Each winter, temporary sand berms are constructed to protect beach amenities from coastal storm flooding.
During severe winter storms in 2004-2005, Venice Beach experienced significant erosion. The purpose of the project was to restore a 650 yard-long segment of the beach between the breakwater and the lifeguard headquarters. About 30,000 cubic yards of restored sand helped protect the recreational and lifeguard facilities from future storm wave damage and widened the beach, improving recreational benefits to beach goers.
2012 "Best of the Best" Restored Beaches winners
- Top urban beach: West Hampton Dunes, NY
- Top community beach: Navarre Beach, FL (also garnering the highest overall vote total)
- Top park/habitat beach: Presque Isle, PA
In addition to the three categories, ASBPA also compiled votes by regional categories (with the three top winners excluded). Those results:
- Northeast Beaches: East Beach, Norfolk, VA
- Northwest Beaches: Marine Park, Bellingham, WA
- Southeast Beaches: Isle of Palms, SC
- Florida Gulf Coast Beaches: Captiva Island, FL
- Northern and Western Gulf Coast Beaches: Corpus Christi, TX
- South Central Pacific Coast & Hawaii Beaches: Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, HI
- Great Lakes Beaches: Sunrise Beach Park, IL
In addition, ASBPA President Harry Simmons singled out Panama City, FL, for a special President’s Award, citing the strong community support (which placed them a very strong second in the Urban Beach category).
Isle of Palms, South Carolina: The Isle of Palms is a non-federally funded beach restoration project completed in 2008 at a cost of $8.4 million; the people of the Isles of Palms community paid 84% of the project cost, while the county and state provided the balance of the funding. The project restored 10,200 linear feet of beach by placing more than 847,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach. The project was implemented in response to severe erosion along a three-mile section of beach at the northeastern end of the island. Isle of Palms is a seven-mile-long, drumstick barrier island which experiences periodic shoal-bypassing events from Dewees Inlet. Shoal bypassing is an episodic process of sandbar migration from the inlet shoals to the beach. A severe storm in 2006 resulted in loss of hundreds of feet of beach along a densely developed segment of shoreline. Emergency sandbags were placed by private entities to protect nearly $1 billion worth of property.
The restoration plan built on studies of the island and Dewees Inlet and sought to incorporate beach nourishment and the ongoing effects of shoal bypassing. The project included a search for an offshore borrow area, confirmation of sediment quality, formulation of a nourishment plan for the three highest erosion areas, and all permitting. Construction included removal of sandbags in close coordination with fill placement so that upland properties remained protected. After the restoration project was completed, the average dry-beach width after nourishment was ~300 feet, which greatly exceeds the width of a typical South Carolina beach.
Menauhant Beach, Massachusetts: The Menauhant beach and dune restoration project was completed in the fall of 2008. Using sand derived from a federally funded and sponsored project to improve a nearby navigation channel, a municipal public beach restoration project was completed. The restoration reduced potential for barrier overwash and storm damage; improved and increased intertidal habitat; improved public access to the shores and waters of Vineyard Sound; and enhanced recreational use at the beach. The project shows that with cooperation among local, state, and federal authorities, regional sediment management can provide a balanced and sustainable source of sediments for restoration projects.
More than 20,000 cubic yards of clean sand dredged during a federal project that created a better navigation channel into Great Harbor off Woods Hole, Mass. was used to restore approximately 1,900 linear feet of Menauhant Beach, which is about five miles away from the dredge site by sea. Once delivered to the beach site, the sand was used to substantially raise and broaden existing dunes and to construct new dunes in areas that were previously exposed to Vineyard Sound. Beach slopes were constructed to provide habitat for foraging shorebirds. Volunteers planted beach grass on all dune areas. Sand fencing was installed around the completed restoration to better control foot traffic and promote accretion of wind-blown material.
Miami Beach, Florida: The Miami Beach restoration project is a federally sponsored project with cost sharing for the initial and subsequent renourishment projects between federal, state, and local partners. The beach nourishment restored/constructed a 10.5-mile protective beach fill extending from Government Cut through Haulover Beach Park. The initial project was constructed from 1976 to 1981 at a cost of approximately $64 million and has revitalized the economy of the Miami Beach area. The restoration plan was developed to address severe beach erosion along the Miami-Dade County shoreline, and the associated economic and social impacts to the community. The project originally included a storm protection berm planted with native dune vegetation. In early 2000, the city initiated a $3 million dune restoration and enhancement program to remove exotic nuisance plant species; revegetate the dunes with native species; replace protective fencing adjacent to the dunes; and install protective signage.
The city of Miami Beach is an intensely developed urban environment. However, the city has been able to balance the needs for recreation and habitat through the restoration process. Miami Beach is the nesting habitat for endangered sea turtles, butterflies, and several dune unique vegetation species. The city realizes the protection and enhancement of natural resources is closely linked to preservation of its quality of life and the stability of its tourism based economy.
Moonlight Beach, California: Moonlight Beach is a public/private partnership beach restoration project located a few blocks west of downtown Encinitas, a location that makes it the most heavily recreated beach within the city with an estimated 600,000 annual visitors. Moonlight Beach is the crown jewel of Encinitas due to free parking, easy accessibility, lifeguard services, volleyball courts, tot lot and fire rings. The Moonlight Beach restoration project was actually two “opportunistic” beach nourishment projects completed by the city of Encinitas. The beach restoration project used 6,000 cubic yards of sand from an upland development and from the routine dry weather maintenance of the city’s detention basins. The sand from these two projects was placed along an approximately 1,100 foot-long and 50 foot-wide segment of Moonlight Beach, and was delivered to the beach via truck for both projects. The material was placed on the beach as a low -tide linear mound, which allowed the material to be reworked and redistributed by the daily tidal cycle. This was an important component of the project since the coloration of the upland material is typically different than that of the native beach.
The city was able to finance the project (which was done between March 2010 and March 2011) with public/private funds. The private developer agreed to pay the hauling cost while the city obtained the permits, testing and approvals. For the detention basin project, the city was able to reduce the cost of annual maintenance by hauling to a local beach vs. hauling to a landfill. The combination of forward thinking by the city and the cost-sharing between the public and private sectors has made this a unique project.
Presque Isle, Pennsylvania: The Presque Isle Peninsula is a 6.7-mile long, 3,200-acre spit forming one of the finest natural Great Lakes harbors which attracts international attention. To preserve the peninsula, Congress authorized in 1986 the construction of 58 offshore rubble-mound breakwaters and initial beach restoration. The breakwaters, constructed parallel to the shore, mimic nature and act as a barrier reef.
In 1989, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (working with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as the local sponsor) entered into a partnership to restore the fragile ecosystem and maintain the park. The restoration project has placed a total of 584,713 cubic yards of sand on the beach between 1993 to 2010, and has reinvigorated the fragile ecosystem that supports many endangered species.
The Presque Isle Peninsula beach system is an important recreational resource because it serves as a state park that attracts over 4 million visitors a year. Additionally, the peninsula is a valuable ecological resource as an ancient Lake Erie feature, and is a National Natural Landmark which presents five different series of primary plant successions from beach to forest. It also contains a greater number of endangered, threatened and rare species than any other area of comparable size in Pennsylvania. In addition, the park has historic importance dating back to 1812. The Presque Isle restoration project is a prime example of how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania working together have preserved an important resource.
Corpus Christi, Texas: The Corpus Christi Urban Waterfront Beach Project consist of two projects: McGee Beach and Corpus Christi Beach. These urban beaches have been ranked among America’s top beaches; great sand, clear calm waters, and a diversity of events and attractions providing easy access to the public.
Navarre Beach, Florida: A non-federal beach restoration project at Navarre Beach was designed to restore a critical protective buffer to the upland along approximately 4 miles of Gulf shoreline repeatedly damaged by multiple storms. The project was also designed to re-establish important recreational and economic benefits for the area, including 0.7 miles of beach and dune at the Navarre Beach State Park Recreation Area. Perhaps one key success factor of this project can be found simply in the ultimate acceptance of the completed project by the stakeholders, including many who were vocal opponents in the initial planning stages. Once sand began to expand the storm-damaged beach and residents saw the Gulf being "pushed" away from their properties, evacuation routes and other public infrastructure, public opinion began to slowly move from criticism to appreciative acceptance of the project.
Seahurst Park, Washington: The Seahurst Park Project is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-funded effort through a Project Partnership Agreement with the city of Burien. Seahurst Park’s South Shoreline restoration project has reinvigorated a park and a fragile ecosystem. The design has restored the physical connection between the natural beach and its sediment supply. The restored beach supports federally listed threatened and endangered species such as Chinook salmon. Residents of Burien and other communities throughout the region visit Seahurst Park to learn about the environment and enjoy the park’s shorelines. The Corps' Seattle District has completed a general investigation and feasibility study for Puget Sound restoration.
Seal Beach, California: The Seal Beach project located in Orange County has significant historic importance as being the state's first U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ beach nourishment project that has been ongoing for almost 50 years. The state of California is aggressively promoting beach nourishment projects, and this is an example of a very successful ongoing project that is a model of what others can look like in the state. This beach provides a resource to millions of people in a high-density population area on the border of Orange/ Los Angeles counties. Nourishment allows the city the flexibility to better manage the sand within their compartmentalized shoreline over time, improve the users’ experience, and enhance protection. There was a high level of cooperation between local, state and federal governments to allow an unconventional contracting process to succeed in a tight timeframe and budget.
Bellingham, Wash.: The Bellingham project generated significant public interest in beach restoration. The project started in September 2004, with a beach cleanup effort to remove wood piles, rebar and asphalt paths. The newly completed Marine Park Shoreline Restoration Project provides safe water access and features lush landscaping, new benches and a renovated picnic shelter. The project also includes rock structures to keep the new sand and cobble in place; and environmentalists enhanced the fish habitat that connects the salt marsh and eelgrass habitat systems.
Duval County , Fla.: The Duval County Shore Protection Project is a federally authorized project along 10 miles of the Atlantic coast near Jacksonville, Florida. It extends from the St. Johns River jetties to the St. Johns County line and is a section of shoreline that was heavily damaged by numerous severe storms in the 1960s, including Hurricane Dora. Beach restoration reestablished a wide, stable sandy beach that provides storm protection benefits, environmental enhancement and increased recreational opportunities for the residents of Jacksonville and northeast Florida and tourists from around the world. The project is part of a long-term project initially constructed in 1980 and is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Jacksonville.
Encinitas, Calif.: The Encinitas-Pacific Station Project is the first "opportunistic use" project in Encinitas and was made possible through a public-private partnership. The goal was to place suitable beach-quality sand from a local development project (Pacific Station) on one of the city’s most popular beaches to provide recreational enhancement and storm protection benefits. The city and the developer worked cooperatively and with a variety of local, regional, state and federal regulatory agencies. One of the key features is this project added a new source of sand into a sand-starved beach system. As the sand drifts south, it will protect beaches and coastal properties and provide increased recreational benefits for many miles down the coast.
Fire Island, N.Y.: This project is a highly successful beach renourishment project built between January and April 2009. It is the culmination of 16 years of individual effort among 11 communities leading to the largest and first joint project on the Fire Island barrier island along the south shore of Long Island. The project demonstrates how periodic renourishment aids in sustaining greater storm protection and recreational enhancement, instead of waiting until erosion has reached a critical point before action is taken. The project also restored the protective beach and dunes of one critically eroded community, and will aid in preserving the shoreline for future visitors to Fire Island.
Lido Key, Sarasota, Fla.: The Lido Key is located within the city of Sarasota, on the west coast of Florida. The bright white beach of Lido Key is vital to both the local and state tourism-driven economies and is a major recreational asset for residents. In addition to year-round recreational use, the beach is also important in providing coastal storm protection. The beach renourishment project concluded in April 2009 with the placement of over 600,000 tons of white sand. The project restored the beach of Lido Key to the condition it was in prior to the devastating hurricanes of 2004 and 2005, and now provides vital storm protection for a hurricane evacuation route, major residential buildings and recreational areas, as well as restoration of the beach's sea turtle nesting and shorebird habitats.
South Padre Island, Texas: South Padre Island is on a barrier island off the southern tip of Texas. The town's commitment to preserve and restore local beaches, maintain the quality of life and sustain the local tourism-based economy was the driving force for the beach restoration project. In 2008, Hurricanes Dolly and Ike each caused severe damage to the town’s beaches, including the back beach sand dunes. The project was designed to work with nature to enhance local coastal resources while restoring coastal habitat. The project was successfully completed in early 2009 and has produced clean, wide beaches that are open to the public.
St. Joseph Peninsula (Cape San Blas), Fla.: The St. Joseph Peninsula Beach Restoration Project is located along the western portion of Gulf County, Fla. More than 250,000 people visit St. Joseph Peninsula each year and provide substantial economic benefits to the local economy. A key component of the project’s success was the support of the local community, who donated time and resources to make this project a reality. The project included beach restoration along 7.5 miles of coastline, including areas with critically eroded beaches. The project’s success is based on excellent sand quality and design, resulting in an enhanced recreational beach, increased storm protection and an extended habitat for marine life.
Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, HI: Waikiki is Honolulu ’s ocean recreation playground, a small but thriving tourist town that contains Hawaii’s busiest beach. Waikiki brings in over 46 percent ($3.6 billion) of the state’s economic contribution from tourism. This project had the benefit of encouraging the state of Hawaii to plan a larger restoration nearby, as well as emphasizing the merits of beach restoration to numerous Waikiki resorts.
North Boca Raton, FL: This project is characterized by its longevity, environmental sensitivity and foresight. In the 1970s, the city acquired three large beachfront properties to convert into public parks. In today’s dollars, the parks are worth over $330 million, making these parks the city’s most valuable asset. North Boca is a model beach project because most residents and visitors do not realize that it is a restored beach.
Ocean Isle Beach, NC: Thanks to high-quality sand from the inlet, the project outperformed expectations by extending the planned three-year renourishment interval to five years. Sand captured in the inlet borrow area is used for periodic renourishment; this provides a renewable sand source for the project while maintaining a navigable inlet channel.
Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA: Seattle’s downtown waterfront, which hasn’t had any beaches for more than a century, has been given a gift in seeing firsthand the value of a beach in the midst of its busiest, most densely populated neighborhood. Millions of residents and visitors are being inspired to re-think the importance of beaches along their own downtown waterfronts.
Venice Beach, FL: Severe erosion had exposed public and private property to storm damage, reduced turtle nesting habitat, and weakened the tourism potential of Venice Beach in the early 1990s. The restored beach performed so favorably that in 2005, when renourishment was scheduled, only 33 percent of the sand had eroded. The restored beach offers recreational amenities such as myriad beach uses, snorkeling at the artificial reef sites, and searching for prehistoric sharks’ teeth, for which Venice is famous.
Destin & Walton County, FL: The partnership between Walton County and the city of Destin (Okaloosa County) is a model of regionalization in coastal management. The beaches of Walton County and Destin are some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. However, a series of storms beginning with Hurricane Opal in 1995 caused devastating erosion of the beaches and dunes and hindered the natural recovery process. Subsequent storms demonstrated the need for beach restoration. After seven years of project planning, nourishment was completed in 2007. Careful hopper dredging operations ensured no ill effects to the Gulf sturgeon, a threatened species whose critical habitat lies within the project area. The project also led to a federal reevaluation of turtle take distribution among U.S. Army Corps districts. The restored beach contains sand that has nearly identical color, composition, and grain size of the native beach. Constructed dunes, planted with native sea oats, replicate the natural dune system and provide additional habitat and storm protection. This large-scale beach restoration project revitalized a seven-mile stretch of beach to its original beauty and now provides upland storm protection and economic viability to the counties through year-round tourism opportunities.
Collier County, FL : This project combines innovative design, extensive sand searches, sophisticated environmental data-gathering and monitoring, and careful operational strategies to produce a high-quality, durable beach with minimal social and environmental impacts. The excellent sand chosen for the project, the advanced extraction and placement methods, and the design of the profile has resulted both in better project performance and fewer environmental impacts. For unavoidable impacts, mitigation in the form of limestone boulders was installed as compensation, providing a thriving hardbottom habitat.
Surfside-Sunset Beach, CA : Since 1964, this beach restoration and nourishment program has placed nearly 16.5 million cubic yards of sand onto the beach at Surfside and Sunset Beach CA. These nourishments have acted as a “feeder beach,” effectively maintaining about 17 miles of the previously sand-starved littoral cell between Seal Beach and Newport Pier. An early precursor to the Regional Sediment Management concept, this program is undertaken as a partnership among the Army Corps of Engineers, the State of California’s Department of Boating and Waterways, Orange County, the City of Newport Beach, the City of Huntington Beach, and the Surfside Stormwater Special District.
West Hampton Dunes, NY : At one time, West Hampton Dunes was the poster child of what could go wrong with a project, but today it is a lesson in successful partnership and coastal management. The shoreline of what is now the Incorporated Village of West Hampton Dunes had experienced increased erosion since the construction of a groin field to the east of the Village boundary. The erosion eventually led to extensive overwash and a breach in the barrier island in during a storm in1992, causing the loss of many dwellings and private property. The lack of governmental response to the crisis led to legal action by the residents against the federal, state and local governments and to a stipulated settlement that allowed redevelopment of the Village, improved public access, endangered habitat enrichment and vital coastal flood and erosion protection.
Norfolk, VA, East Beach : The elements of state-of-the-art shoreline protection with multiple breakwaters, beach restoration, dune creation and vegetation, and revitalization of a blighted community are successfully captured in this effort. Adjacent to a shoreline distressed because of updrift interruptions of littoral drift, the East Beach section of Norfolk had deteriorated into what was essentially a slum. Through persistent coordination among the City of Norfolk and the Commonwealth of Virginia, The Virginia Port Authority, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the neighborhoods of East Beach, Bay Breeze Point, and Bay Oaks, the beach was restored with dredged channel material, a series of breakwaters were constructed, and the East Beach section has been transformed into a vibrant and sustainable “living community” which is safe and walkable, and which was named the 2006 Community of the Year by the local Tidewater Builders Association. Clearly, the success of East Beach has gone far beyond just the renourishment of a section of shoreline; it includes the comprehensive redevelopment of a once-blighted community – a “place” where one can live, work and play.
Chaland, LA, Headland Restoration: Traditionally, the benefits accruing to restored beaches are recognized as storm damage reduction to upland development and as recreational revenue production. The Chaland Headland Restoration Project does neither; rather, this innovative and precedent-setting project was constructed solely to restore and protect environmental resources (coastal marshlands) and to reduce continued degradation of the marshes from natural and anthropogenic causes. Located 50 miles south of New Orleans, the project produced a 3-mile beach with approximately 1.8 million cubic yards of sand fill and, with another nearly 1 million cubic yards of material, created new marshlands from open water. An early critical component of Louisiana’s coastal recovery, the Chaland Headland Restoration is literally the first line of defense for the interior marshes of Barataria Bay, which serve as important fishery and rookery habitats. These marshes also reduce hurricane strength and storm surge before they impact New Orleans. This project is a wonderful example of innovative adaptation of beach restoration principles for environmental protection, restoration, and enhancement.
Perdido Pass, AL: Healthy beaches are more than a recreational attraction when considered on a regional scale. The improved management of Perdido Pass and adjacent beaches is an effective implementation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Regional Sediment Management (RSM) program in that it has improved sand bypassing efficiency and enabled the dredged material to remain in the littoral system. Decades of Perdido Pass maintenance dredging had been conducted using the least-cost disposal method: offshore disposal (and wastage) of over 6 million cubic yards of beach-quality sand. The success of the Perdido Pass RSM program has helped change the paradigm of dredged material disposal. Importantly, the cumulative impacts of the regional management approach are now considered to be cost-beneficial, e.g. with optimized sediment management comes fewer occurrences of sediment returning to the inlet, thus reducing future maintenance efforts and costs. The project has resulted in improved navigability at Perdido Pass and has provided wider beaches in the region, enhancing storm protection, recreational opportunities, and habitat for endangered sea turtles, beach mice, various shore birds, and other beach dwelling organisms.
Folly Beach, SC: Folly Beach is one of the most publicly accessible beaches in the Southeast, and the “Washout’ at Folly Beach is one of the most popular surfing areas in South Carolina. The city’s beaches were devastated by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and a federal project was authorized in 1992. The initial restoration of Folly Beach was conducted by the Charleston District of the Army Corps of Engineers in 1993 with 2.8 million cubic yards over about 28,000 feet of beach. Scheduled for nourishment in 2006, the hurricanes of 2004 resulted in an accelerated nourishment schedule. The nourishment was implemented in 2005 with 2.3 million cubic yards of sand along the project beach. The success of this project is reflected in the amenities and attractions protected and enhanced by the healthy beach. Environmentally, Folly Beach provides nesting habitat for loggerhead sea turtles (as well as an occasional leatherback), and is home to a number of species of shorebirds. Folly Beach provides a resource which is valued by people nationwide and by endangered and threatened wildlife.
Assateague Island’s beach restoration project is saving one of America’s great undeveloped barrier islands. Assateague’s North End Restoration Project began in 2002 with almost 2 million cubic yards of sand spread along six miles of the north end of Assateague Island (just south of the renowned resort town of Ocean City) and has been supplemented with four smaller placements of sand since then. The goal is to replicate the natural feeding of sand to the island from the north, which has been blocked by the Ocean City jetties since the 1930s. The Assateague National Seashore (part of the National Park Service) manages the beach.
Captiva Island’s beach nourishment program has successfully protected island beaches for decades. A 2005 renourishment is just the most recent phase of a 45-year program to maintain the island’s beaches. Last year, more than a million cubic yards of sand was placed along the entire length of the island in coordination with projects on Sanibel Island to the south and both adjacent inlets. Captiva has a broad-based coalition of federal, state and local partners including a half-dozen funding sources who have contributed to the restoration cost. The Captiva Erosion Prevention District manages the beach.
The brilliant white sands placed on the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach beaches match the native sands almost perfectly. This beach restoration along the eastern entrance to Mobile Bay began with 1.6 million cubic yards of sand along three miles of Gulf Shores in 2001. Because of that success in restoring the recreational beach width and protecting property from recent hurricanes, the 2005 phase added another 7 million cubic yards along 16 miles of Gulf Shores, the Gulf State Park, and Orange Beach. This beach restoration is paid almost entirely with local funding from the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
The Treasure Island/Long Key federal nourishment project in Pinellas County on Florida’s west coast has been aided by a history of unity among numerous government agencies that agreed to protect and enhance the environmental, cultural and public resources in this region. These partnerships were most obvious during the remarkable 2004 nourishment project constructed during Florida’s most destructive hurricane season in history. This exceptional effort has maintained stunning white-sand beaches in southern Pinellas County for decades. The millions of tourists who visit these beaches every year are testament to its success.
Rehoboth and Dewey Beaches provide recreational and storm damage reduction benefits for almost 2.5 miles of coastline just south of Delaware Bay. Some 1.7 million cubic yards of sand were used to create a 125-150 foot wide protective beach, backed by 25-foot-wide vegetated dunes elevated six feet above the main beach area. Dune habitat was re-established along the shoreline through active planting and sand fencing. The project also created 45 pedestrian dune crossovers, two handicapped-access dune crossings and two vehicular dune crossings -- integrating habitat development and habitat protection, as well as access and recreational amenities, into the project.
The Sea Bright to Manasquan Inlet project has succeeded beyond the designers’ expectations of a six-year renourishment cycle. The project has enhanced economic, recreational and environmental opportunities to the area, and has also reduced storm damage for more than 10 years. Located in a suburban and urban environment along the northern New Jersey coast, it is the largest restored beach in the United States.
Pacifica State Beach is an example of a well-planned, well-executed coastal project that is the product of cooperative efforts of the local community, state and federal agencies, scientists, engineers and citizens. The complex beach and habitat restoration project involved of over 10 regulatory and permitting agencies, funding from eight granting agencies and the active design participation from eight environmental groups. It is one of the first beaches to utilize managed retreat as a method of shoreline protection. In addition to beach nourishment, it has restored habitat for four threatened and endangered species and enhanced community access with expanded parking lots, trails and new restrooms.
Cape May Inlet to Lower Township: Updrift accretion and downdrift erosion at Cape May Inlet, constructed in 1911, has left downdrift communities and the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center with little or no beach. A federal beach nourishment project sponsored by the USCG, the city of Cape May, the state of New Jersey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was authorized in 1991. Storm water outfalls were extended, dune systems established, and two groins were reconstructed. Since the first placement of 1.365 million cubic yards of sand, the project has been renourished seven times averaging 240,000 cubic yards of sand per year. Most of the sand is placed in the USCG Training Center area where it functions as a feeder beach for the rest of the project.
Indian River County: Less than a mile south of Sebastian Inlet, the Indian River County Sectors 1 and 2 Project Area lies within the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, home to the highest density sea turtle nesting sites in the Western hemisphere. While the project provided storm protection and economic benefit through enhanced recreational opportunities, planning and sensitivity to environmental issues resulted in a turtle friendly beach. Monitoring showed that turtle hatching success increased after the project was completed. Further, hatching success was higher on the renourished beach than on adjacent control beaches. In Florida’s historic 2004 hurricane season, this area survived direct hits by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, faring far better than many other areas of Indian River County that experienced significant wave damage to the dune field and upland structures.
Town of South Padre Island Beaches: This project is the result of 15 years of planning and inter-governmental coordination. From 1997 to 2005, the town of South Padre Island, the USACE, the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Department of Transportation placed approximately 2.103 million cubic yards of sand on the South Padre Island Beaches, at a cost of $12 million. Sand sources include the bi-annual dredging of the Brazos Santiago Pass (Brownsville Ship Channel) and, more recently, the trucking of sand that had blown into TxDOT right of way. The town provides free public access to the beach averaging one every quarter-mile, many through naturally vegetated sand dunes.
Ocean City, MD: The Ocean City project has all the elements of an effective, beneficial beach nourishment project. It has stimulated the local economy; it is well managed and effectively implemented; it enjoys broad public support; its cost has been shared by local, state and federal interests; and the benefits of the long-term program far outweigh the costs. Those who’ve watched this complex and complicated restoration effort believe it may one day rival Miami Beach as a beach nourishment success story.
Sunrise Beach, IL: The Sunrise Beach project is an example of a local community addressing a local coastal problem with perseverance and innovation. With almost no shoreline sand to work with and facing dramatic fluctuations in lake levels, the community of Lake Bluff, Illinois, successfully created a sustainable, cost-effective beach. Using shoreline structures, imported sand, native vegetation and regular maintenance, Sunrise Beach Park is now enjoyed by the entire area.
Long Beach, CA: The Long Beach project was chosen for its contributions to the quality of life of this large southern California community. This project is also a prime example of intelligent, effective sand management. Because it is a closed coastal system (separated from other beaches that might feed it sand during normal wave action), the city of Long Beach has developed an ongoing program of regularly moving material from the accreting area to the eroding area of the beach. In refining this eminently logical process, the city is currently spending approximately $1.50 per cubic yard for sand, and the program is a normal line item in the city’s annual capital budget.
Bogue Banks, NC: The Bogue Banks project was a complicated effort, implemented in an area where the beach literally is the local community. Through a complex maze of federal authorization, funding and policy minefields, the project ultimately accomplished the near-impossible: Effectively combine a federal navigation project with a shore protection project. For the first time in almost 100 years, the navigation requirements for Morehead City were combined with the beach nourishment needs of Bogue Banks – regional sediment management at its best.
2003 Top Restored Beach winners (honored by the American Coastal Coalition, which merged with the ASBPA in 2004)
The Town of Hilton Head Island, SC, was chosen because its comprehensive beach management plan, which uses beach nourishment as a major component, has proven itself over a significant period of time.
Hilton Head Island Mayor Tom Peeples said: “The town is gratified that our long-term effort to renourish our most valuable natural resource has been recognized by the American Coastal Coalition.”
After its incorporation 20 years ago, Peeples said, the town immediately prioritized protection of the town's beach as an investment on its future. Prior to incorporation, he said, “our beach was in bad shape.”
Peeples recalled that the town in 1993 adopted a beach preservation fee of 2 percent on sleeping accommodations that in 2002 raised more than $3 million. The town, according to the mayor “has spent over $19 million to date to renourish its beach.”
“Perhaps the key to our commitment to our beach is our ongoing monitoring program that establishes benchmarks and allows us to determine the need and time for future work,” Peeples said. The town has also introduced sand fencing to its beach protection program and results have been most positive.
In 2001, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) completed construction on the Regional Beach Sand Project, the first comprehensive regional beach restoration project on the West Coast of the United States.
Sun, sand, and surf are the images San Diegans and people around the world think of when they hear names like Oceanside, Carlsbad, Moonlight Beach, Fletcher Cove, La Jolla Shores, Mission Beach, Coronado, and Imperial Beach. But the warm image faded quickly when residents and visitors alike discovered that the sand was missing from under their beach blankets and between their toes on many of San Diego’s beaches.
Thanks to the San Diego Regional Beach Sand Project, which placed more than 2 million cubic yards of sand on the beaches, a priceless resource was restored. Clean beach-quality sand was dredged from a half-dozen offshore sites and pumped onto 12 beaches along the San Diego County coastline from the City of Oceanside to the Mexico border.
The Regional Beach Sand Project received funding from Congress through the U.S. Navy, and from the state legislature through the California Department of Boating and Waterways. The project was made possible through the work of local elected officials from the region's 18 cities and county, and legislative representatives in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento.
In considering nominations for the award, beaches were reviewed for several characteristics important to successful beach restoration projects, including innovative partnering and project management to achieve goals, durability of the restoration, and environmental and economic impacts.
2002 Top Restored Beach winners (honored by the American Coastal Coalition, which merged with the ASBPA in 2004)
Caswell Beach, Brunswick County, N. C.
The Town of Caswell Beach has been dealing with the problems of beach erosion for many years, including the effects of four hurricanes in the past six years, two of which hit the town directly. These erosion problems had caused partial relocation of the community’s main road in the past and in 1997 again threatened imminent undermining of the road. Initial stop-gap measures were instigated to temporarily solve the problem from 1997 through 2000, including the installation of sandbags.
Meanwhile, the town created a trust fund for beach nourishment, capitalized through a combination of ad valorem taxes, accommodations tax (on short term rentals) and donations. The town also initiated a number of other actions, the most significant of which was forming the Brunswick Beaches Consortium (BBC). Comprising six Brunswick County coastal towns all facing beach restoration problems, the BBC negotiated with the Corps of Engineers to use sand dredged from the nearby Cape Fear River navigation channel for beach nourishment. This solution allowed sand to be put on the beach at absolutely no cost to the town. All Corps work was completed in the fall of 2001 and the town planted beach grass and sea oats to stabilize the dune.
Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Fla.
The city of Delray Beach is highly dependent on its beach to support the tourist economy, provide storm protection to the coastal community of businesses and residences, and serve as city’s major recreational amenity. In addition, the beach is an important nesting beach for threatened marine turtles, such as the loggerhead sea turtle.
Extensive studies of the rate of shoreline loss were conducted to evaluate the appropriate program of shoreline nourishment needed to maintain the beach. A large volume of beach-compatible sand located directly offshore allowed for use low-cost dredge technology to construct the beach nourishment. In addition, an offshore barrier reef system was precisely mapped to locate the reef, and allow for careful monitoring by biologists to avoid reef damage during project construction.
The initial beach nourishment project was constructed in summer 1973, when about 1,635,000 cubic yards of sand was used to nourish 2.7 miles of shoreline. Since then, the city has maintained the beach through renourishment of the original project, with the most recent renourishment occurring when 1.1 million cubic yards of sand was added in 2001.
The beach now includes a large well-developed dune system and provides substantial protection from storms, a large recreational area and a significant area supporting sea turtle nesting habitat.
Panama City Beach, Bay County, Fla.
The Panama City Beaches, Florida Beach Erosion Control and Storm Damage Reduction Project is a federally-authorized shore protection project covering the 18.5 miles of the Panama City Beaches in Bay County. The project is the only U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) supported project in the Panhandle of Florida, and it is also the longest continuous nourishment project in the State of Florida. Panama City Beach, with its sugary, white beaches fronting the aquamarine Gulf of Mexico boasts the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches.”
While the project was in its planning stages, Hurricane Opal devastated the beaches in 1995, leaving behind a very narrow beach, the Gulf of Mexico lapping at seawalls, and little storm protection for the future. The original restoration placed a whopping 8.3 million cubic yards (mcy) of sand in 1998-1999. It was constructed locally as a federal reimbursement project – the first and largest of its kind.
The Panama City Beaches have had two additional beach nourishment projects since the original restoration. Both nourishments have occurred as a result of storms . The second and third nourishment projects, both completed by the USACE, placed 3.3 mcy in 2006 and 1.4 mcy in 2011. Barring storm-induced erosion, the project performance is outstanding. Prior to Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the project had only lost 15% of its original volume.
The Panama City Beach community continues to support and recognize the importance of their ongoing beach nourishment program. One cent of the local bed tax, which provides nearly $2 million annually, is dedicated to the beach restoration efforts. The project provides critical storm protection for upland structures and infrastructure. In addition, the project provides habitat for nesting sea turtles and other wildlife, and it provides an enhanced, highly utilized recreational beach for the community and its six million plus annual visitors.
Pompano Beach/Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Broward County, Fla.
The beach restoration began in 1970 with an initial placement of 1.1 million cubic yards of sand dredged from offshore borrow areas and placed along central and southern Pompano Beach and northern Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. In 1983, the project was expanded and nourished with 1.8 million cubic yards of sand, creating a total of 5.2 miles of restored beach. Funding was provided through a combination of federal, state and county funds. The restored area provides recreational beach space for residents and tourists, as well as providing protection to shorefront properties from a 50-year storm. The benefit/cost ratio of the project is conservatively estimated by local authorities at 8.6 to 1.
Virginia Beach, located in City of Virginia Beach, Va.
In 2001, Virginia Beach completed a nearly six-mile beach restoration project as the final phase in a five-year construction program to reduce storm damage potential. The city of Virginia Beach and their partner, the Norfolk District, had maintained a smaller beach along this portion of the coast through annual replenishment efforts for more than 50 years. The smaller beach was only 100 feet wide and provided limited protection from storm events and a minimal platform for recreation.
Four million cubic yards of sand were used in the recent restoration efforts. The newly restored beach, at over twice the volume of sand of the older beach, coupled with a new seawall and drainage system built with the overall project, provides storm protection to the tourism industry infrastructure for all but the rarest storm events. The new beach, at nearly three times the width of the previously maintained beach, also significantly enhances recreational opportunities, along with a new boardwalk/promenade, bike path and other amenities.
Virginia Beach overcame several major obstacles in implementing this project, including the need to better inform the public of the merits of such works and the scheduling of heavy construction in a thriving and busy tourism market. An aggressive media and public relations campaign helped sway long-held but loosely founded beliefs that were contrary to major beach project expenditures. Heavy construction was phased and limited to the winter months for the seawall and other hard features of the project to avoid traffic from and impacts to the tourism industry.