Beach Renourishment

UPDATED September 9, 2023: Read the article
Beach Renourishment: Army Corps meets with Pinellas Residents and Officials

Since 1966, the US Army Corps of Engineers has partnered with Pinellas County in regular beach renourishment projects to relocate sand from dredged channels to our barrier island beaches. Recently, this Pinellas County Shore Protection Project has been indefinitely suspended due to policy changes in Washington, DC that upend decades of precedent and cooperation between our federal, state, and local governments.

The primary issue appears to be Washington's desire to secure perpetual easements from property owners to ensure that public access is available and maintained on renourished beaches. In the past, we have satisfied these requirements by recognizing Florida's historic tradition of public beach access and obtaining easements on private beach property landward of our state-determined "Erosion Control Line" that is the effective boundary of private ownership. 

As described in a letter to the Army Corps by former Congressman Charlie Crist in March of 2021:

While I understand the need to protect public access to Pinellas beaches – and I strongly support doing so – I don’t believe that providing the requested flexibility to the County would impede that access. Florida is unique among states as our State Legislature in law has designated an Erosion Control Line (ECL) that clearly delineates the public and private segments of our beaches. Pinellas County officials and I understand the requirement to obtain easements from property owners where sand will be placed on the private side of the state-mandated line. We believe this is consistent with the requirements of the 1986 WRDA law. Where we disagree with the Army Corps is the need to obtain easements for those segments of the project where sand will only be placed on the public side of the ECL, as public access in these areas is already guaranteed by state law.

In other words, easements have historically been obtained where the sand is being placed on the private side of the Erosion Control Line, and where appropriate easements cannot be obtained, renourishment is simply skipped to avoid jeopardizing the entire coastline.

Over the past several weeks, however, our Pinellas County and city governments have been informed that due to decisions made in Washington, the entire Pinellas County Shore Protection Project has now been halted. 

Current Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna authored her own letter advocating for renourishment in early August, including pictures of at-risk shoreline throughout Pinellas County (PDF of letter below):

Especially in the wake of Hurricane Idalia, preserving our beaches and coastline is an emergency.