Dune Management & Beach Renourishment
In fiscal year 2021, the City initiated two projects to more actively manage vegetation growth along the beach. The first activity is the removal of invasive vegetation along the entire beach. The removal of invasive and/or exotic species is an important best management practice, especially in sensitive or rare ecosystems, such as the City’s beach. Invasives and exotics choke out native plants and removing them aids in the restoration of native biodiversity.
The scope for this project requires that the contractor dispose of the removed vegetation on a daily basis, so that they are not spread by wind or other factors. For this project, invasive species are those classified as Category I and II in the latest Florida Exotic Pest Plan Council List of Invasive Plant Species and Florida Administrative Code Section 5B-57.007, Noxious Weed List. The following species have been identified within the project area for removal and/or treatment:
- Coinvine (Dalbergia ecastaphyllum);
- Beach naupaka (Scaevola sericea);
- Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius);
- Australian pine (Casuarina spp.) – all saplings that are 8 feet or less;
- Carrotwood (Cupaniopsis anacardiodes);
- Skunk vine (Paederia fetida);
- Rosary pea (Abrus precatoryus);
- Pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum var. aureum);
- Rattlebox (Sesbania spp.); and
- Lead tree (Leucaena leucocephala).
Control of invasive and exotic vegetation is a long-term process that must be maintained as most are fast growing. The initial removal process began at the end of January 2021 and a follow-up removals are being completed on a quarterly basis.
The other activity is the removal of vegetation along the central beach from 104th to 119th Avenue to satisfy aesthetic concerns brought forward by several City businesses and residents. In 2014, the City was involved in litigation pertaining to vehicles on the beach. As a result, all unnecessary beach activities requiring vehicles and/or heavy equipment were ceased. Since this time, vegetation has filled in significantly. In January 2020, a vegetation removal permit application was submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection requesting the removal of native species along the central beach to mimic the 2014 beach conditions shown below. All removal areas have been completed, although there is still uprooted vegetation buried within the sand in some locations. This debris will continue to be removed through mid-April 2022 and will resume after sea turtle nesting season in November.
Areas Permitted for the Removal of Native Vegetation
The areas of Sunshine and Sunset Beach are dependent on sand replenishment every four to five years due to erosion. Renourishment was last completed for Treasure Island in 2019 and was funded by the federal government (60%), the State (20%), and the County's tourist development tax (20%). The project provides storm protection, recreation space, and habitat for sea turtles and shorebirds. More information is available on Pinellas County's Coastal Management webpage. The next project was recently funded by the Army Corps in the amount of $9.2M is tentatively scheduled to begin mid-2023. The result will be an elevated shoreline, similar to the 2019 project. Smaller intermittent renourishment activities that to not effectively elevate the beach will not be protected from the high tide. Requests to add sand behind private property must be permitted through the City's building department and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The Army Corps recently completed a Coastal Storm Risk Management Study to determine the most cost-effective project design to for the next 50 years, starting in 2025. From the analysis, which looked at many alternatives such as dune construction, sand replenishment, jetty construction/extension, groin construction/extension, and seawalls, the Corps identified a Tentatively Selected Plan which includes, for Sunset and Sunshine beaches, sand renourishment similar to historical projects along with the construction of a vegetated dune system. This plan was identified as having the highest benefit-to-cost ratio. More information on the Army Corps' project is available here and the study itself is available here.
This link provides additional information on the State's Strategic Beach Management Plan, Inlet Management Plans and Annual Inlet Reports.
Declaration of public policy relating to improved navigation inlets. The Legislature recognizes the need for maintaining navigation inlets to promote commercial and recreational uses of our coastal waters and their resources. The Legislature further recognizes that inlets interrupt or alter the natural drift of beach-quality sand resources, which often results in these sand resources being deposited in nearshore areas or in the inlet channel, or in the inland waterway adjacent to the inlet, instead of providing natural nourishment to the adjacent eroding beaches. Accordingly, the Legislature finds it is in the public interest to replicate the natural drift of sand which is interrupted or altered by inlets to be replaced and for each level of government to undertake all reasonable efforts to maximize inlet sand bypassing to ensure that beach-quality sand is placed on adjacent eroding beaches. Such activities cannot make up for the historical sand deficits caused by inlets but shall be designed to balance the sediment budget of the inlet and adjacent beaches and extend the life of proximate beach-restoration projects so that periodic nourishment is needed less frequently. Link to the Florida Statute.
Please contact Public Works at 727-547-4575 extension 251 with any questions.
Updated: 18 April 2022