Beach Erosion A Widespread Problem


by: Davis Yancy Clegg

Beach on Amelia Island

 

Last year, the Florida’s coastline and others experienced a blow that has only been equaled a few times in the past century. Hurricane Matthew was an undisputed tragedy. Residents of Amelia Island evacuated to central areas in Georgia and other safe zones for shelter from the storm. Hundreds of people in the  Caribbean lost their lives, poorly manicured municipal tree lines and other factors cost tens of thousands to be without power, beaches were flooded up to the dunes. While the storm causes a great deal of erosion, the process is certainly nothing new, and a footnote to the erosion playing out on a much larger scale over time.

During winter months, our shores experience ebbing that usually will renew and grow back in the summer months. But, there are longer term factors to consider that aren’t so obviously as the perspective from seasonal change. Development on shorelines, and the slowly ever-rising cause a less noticeable, but certain deterioration of the beach. When these larger storms – Matthew for instance – come through, they take out dunes, reshape the beaches and leave barriers put in place by man all but destroyed. Last year, the Florida’s coastline and others experienced a blow that has only been equaled a few times in the past century. Hurricane Matthew was an undisputed tragedy. Residents of Amelia Island evacuated to central areas in Georgia and other safe zones for shelter from the storm. Hundreds of people in the  Caribbean lost their lives, poorly manicured municipal tree lines and other factors cost tens of thousands to be without power, beaches were flooded up to the dunes. While the storm causes a great deal of erosion, the process is certainly nothing new, and a footnote to the erosion playing out on a much larger scale over time. During winter months, our shores experience ebbing that usually will renew and grow back in the summer months. But, there are longer term factors to consider that aren’t so obviously as the perspective from seasonal change. Development on shorelines, and the slowly ever-rising cause a less noticeable, but certain deterioration of the beach. When these larger storms – Matthew for instance – come through, they take out dunes, reshape the beaches and leave barriers put in place by man all but destroyed.

Sample of Beach ErosionWhile some erosion is only temporary, there are cases where the beach cannot recover. Larger storms, like the one still fresh on our minds, can take sand from the beach and pull it out past the wading area where you find tourist drawing the line of safety. In some cases, the storm will drag sand out so deep that the usual strength put forth by waves and the rising tides don’t have the power to bring the sand back to the shoreline. Nature isn’t the only factor contributing to the sure, but slow demise of the shoreline… Seawalls and other barriers that people build to keep their homes safe – taking away sand from the dunes. Guess what! Those dunes offer more protection than any effort you can make on your own ever will.

The environmental side is not one to be taken lightly, it is not the only one to be considered. Healthy and well-kept beaches are where states like Florida, receive their largest revenue stimulation. Tourism contributes nearly 70 Billion dollars to Florida’s overall economy every single year. Sure, Florida Theme Parks play a role in that number, but not one nearly as large as the one attributed to the miles and miles (around 800 to give an estimate) of sun kissed beaches. Those from the north and mid-west can’t wait to escape there in the winter months.

In summation, the rising sea level is going to keep rising. While only rising 8 inches in the past century, practices like structural progress and paved roads along the shore also result in dune doom. What can we do? Beach and dune replenishment projects and the like exist already and are growing in numbers. With diligent and ever-growing efforts like these, we might be able to extend the life of our shorelines despite erosion and development’s effect to the counter.

What about finding a local effort in your area, and become involved.   After the volunteer effort come join us on the boat.  How about a relaxing Family Friendly Sunset Tour?  (learn more…)

 

 

 

 

 

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