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Checking in on Tampa Bay area beach renourishment efforts

Pinellas County has finished restoration efforts in Belleair Beach, Sunset Beach, Upham Beach, Pass-a-Grille, Madeira Beach, Indian Shores, and Indian Rocks Beach.

The sun is shining over the dunes at sunset beach. There is grass littered on the dunes and the ocean is over to the left.

Sand dunes are a feature of Florida’s natural coastal ecosystem.

Photo by TBAYtoday

Remember last year’s massive erosion at Sunset Beach after Hurricane Idalia?

While the Tampa Bay area was spared the brunt of Idalia’s impact, we still saw severe flooding, wind damage, and beach erosion. Pinellas County began work on a Emergency Beach Erosion Control Project — funded by the Tourist Development Tax — to rebuild dunes like those on Treasure Island’s Sunset Beach.

As we head into hurricane season (sigh), we’re checking in on the beach renourishment efforts across Pinellas County:

What happened to the shorelines?

  • Last August’s storm washed away about five feet of sand from Pinellas County’s 35-mile stretch of beaches.
  • Then, December’s winter storm slowed down the restoration process by sweeping away almost half of the renourishment progress at some beaches, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

What was done?

  • Trucks brought in sand and workers shaped it into five-ft-high dunes.Leaders hope this will protect the dunes for at least a couple of hurricane seasons.
  • Beaches were closed to public while the work was finished.
  • The new dunes were planted with vegetation — which will help fortify the sand against future storms.
  • As of April 15, Pinellas County has finished restoration efforts in Belleair Beach, Sunset Beach, Upham Beach, Pass-a-Grille, Madeira Beach, Indian Shores, and Indian Rocks Beach.

What’s next?

  • In a couple years, the second phase of the project will bring the dunes up to 10 ft, according to the county.
  • In the meantime, Pinellas County officials will design + acquire the permits for the next phase.

What I can do to help?

  • Pinellas County doles out sea oats to volunteer groups to plant on the beach in late May through July. Reach out via email.
  • The Tampa Bay Estuary Program hosts a range of volunteer days aimed at keeping our beaches beautiful and waters clean, including Give-A-Days. Get involved.
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