FORT MYERS, FL (May 23, 2016) – From a childhood spent building sand castles to adolescent walks on the beach to adults enjoying family time, America’s beaches are synonymous with celebrating summer. With the beginning of the summer beach season a few days away, the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) today released its much-anticipated annual list of the nation’s best restored beaches. This year’s list provides representation from the west, east, Great Lakes and the Gulf coasts.
The 2016 winners are:
While Americans joyfully celebrate beaches by visiting them, few understand what it takes to keep that beach special. ASBPA created the Best Restored Beach award as a way of highlighting the value of restored beaches.
Why should you want to visit a restored beach? Here’s the top reason, according to ASBPA President Tony Pratt – fun. Many of America’s most heavily used beaches are restored beaches – wide and sandy, providing abundant recreational opportunities for beachgoers.
“As Americans flock to our nation’s coastline during the upcoming beach season, most don’t even realize they may be enjoying a restored beach,” said Pratt, who is administrator of the Shoreline and Waterway Management Section within the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control where he oversees programs related to beach nourishment, beach construction regulation, coastal hazards mitigation, waterway management, and flood mitigation. “Coastal communities have restored more than 370 beaches in the United States, including such iconic beaches as Jones Beach in New York, Ocean City in Maryland, Virginia Beach, Miami Beach, South Padre Island, Texas, Santa Monica and Waikiki Beach.”
For more than 50 years, beach restoration has been the preferred method of shore protection in coastal communities. Beach restoration is the process of placing beach-quality sand on dwindling beaches to reverse or offset the effects of erosion.
The three main reasons for restoration are:
During times of economic hardship, the beach can be an even more desirable vacation destination than other domestic and foreign alternatives, offering families and visitors an accessible and affordable getaway. It is also an employment and tax generator:
To enter the Best Restored Beach competition, coastal communities nominated their projects for consideration, and an independent panel of coastal managers and scientists selected the winners. Judging was based on three criteria:
According to Lee Weishar, Ph.D., chair of the Best Restored Beach Committee responsible for making the selections: “The Best Restored Beaches contest can be compared to an old-time beauty contest… if you like what you see, you vote for it. I look for commitment and dedication to the project. I want the applicant to make me love his or her beach.”
Here’s a brief overview of this year’s Best Restored Beaches:
Babe’s Beach, Galveston, TX
Galveston Island is a tourism-driven economy, with more than 6 million visitors a year to Galveston’s beaches. This project area — named in honor of a legendary figure in coastal Texas history, former State Senator A.R. “Babe” Schwartz, an early leader to protect the public’s right to access the beach — has been completely submerged since Hurricane Carla in 1961. This restoration project has provided (at a minimum) 34 additional acres of coastal beach and dune habitat for native species, enhanced recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, and served to help grow the Galveston economy. This economic development is possible because the beach area west of 61st Street is the last “undeveloped” area along Galveston’s shoreline.
Another benefit is the confidence this project has fostered in the island’s Sand Management Plan. Previously, the area west of 61st Street was almost a forgotten area, with “common knowledge” saying restoration would not be possible due to the anticipated high cost. That was proven not to be true, and this project helps to set the stage for future restoration efforts along the length of the seawall to 103rd Street. Within the project area beach visitation, hotel occupancy, and parking along Seawall Blvd. have dramatically increased.
This project is nationally significant because it was the very first beach and dune habitat restoration project implemented on Galveston’s Gulf shoreline utilizing Beneficial Use of Dredged Materials (BUDM). It also proved that a project does not have to contain multiple millions of cubic yards to be successful, and that with the right planning documents and local will almost anything can be accomplished.
“The restoration project clearly demonstrates that federal, state, and local agencies can come together to overcome obstacles to build a beach that softens a hard structure and increases coastal resiliency,” said Weishar. “Additionally, it shows that the project increases recreational use of a newly created beach.”
Rosewood Beach, Highland Park, IL
The Park District of Highland Park’s recently completed restoration of Rosewood Beach, located in Highland Park, IL, represents the combination of two separate but complementary projects — a unique opportunity to build an ecosystem restoration project concurrent with a separate recreation and education project, resulting in the restoration of beach, bluff and ravine ecosystems along a 1,500-foot section of the west shore of Lake Michigan.
The two projects represent the culmination of a waterfront vision for the site that dates back to 1928, when the land was donated to the Park District by Julius Rosenwald, chairman of Sears, Roebuck Co. The planning and implementation of these projects included extensive resident involvement, strong partnerships and a clear vision to blend ecological best practices with forward-thinking recreational and educational programming to serve the community’s needs today and for future generations.
“The Rosewood Beach project demonstrates how you can combine both hard and soft coastal engineering to restore habitat and restore a public beach,” said Weishar. “The restoration of Rosewood Beach has helped provide public access to the Great Lakes.”
Seabrook Island, SC
To combat ongoing and severe erosion, Seabrook Island management adopted a soft engineering strategy, the cornerstone of which is periodic relocation of Cap’n Sams Inlet. Rather than stabilizing the inlet itself or heavily armoring the shoreline, the inlet is allowed to migrate naturally at ~200 feet per year for about every 15 years over a designated inlet conservation zone ‐ a length of coast that is left in a natural state between each event. Repeated projects, many years apart, allow new sand spit formation and washover habitat sought by certain threatened species, such as the piping plover and red knot.
Each inlet relocation has required more than one attempt to close the old channel – the most difficult aspect of projects like this. With each project, construction efficiencies have improved and the result was ultimately the same: a viable new inlet was created, and the old inlet stayed closed so that sand in the abandoned ebb tidal delta moved onshore and naturally nourished Seabrook Island’s beach. The results have been a cost effective management strategy for maintaining a healthy shoreline. The positive ecological impacts of the project include creating additional dry sand beach above the high tide line for turtle nesting sites and maintaining unvegetated washovers and tidal pool areas for additional piping plover habitat.
The project results in an accreting shoreline downcoast that promotes the formation of healthy dunes to protect the island from tidal surges associated with large storms. The sand that accumulates on the beach is a fine sand from shoals that move in from just offshore that matches the existing sand on the beach perfectly without utilizing offshore sand resources.
“The Seabrook Island restoration project clearly demonstrates the importance of developing a long -term management plan that woks with the natural processes to overcome severe erosion,” said Weishar. “This project shows that a beach restoration project can be successful in a dynamic environment if you clearly understand the coastal processes and develop a plan that works with the coastal processes to achieve the restoration of the beach.”
Topsail Beach, NC
In an era where federal funding for beach nourishment projects is quickly drying up and the need to maintain a beautiful recreational beach and provide substantial coastal protection is at an all-time high, coastal communities must find creative solutions to develop and maintain a successful beach nourishment. This project has been an example of how an individual community can work with non-federal agencies to create new funding mechanisms, provide multi-level benefits to the community, create political unity within the community, and do so while being a steward of the environment.
The town achieved this through a number of steps:
Ultimately, the Topsail Beach project is a holistic program providing a multitude of benefits, proof that a small community can regroup when necessary, think outside the box to complete multiple goals, and develop a long-term strategy that works within the town’s financial constraints. It has been the inspiration and catalyst for a new financial partnership between North Carolina and its coastal communities aimed at protecting the coastal systems as a whole. Its performance for the past year, including a heavy battering by Hurricane Joaquin, proves that the Topsail Beach program provides substantial shoreline protection in the form of a beautiful and natural beach.
“The Topsail Beach restoration project clearly demonstrates the value the town places on their beach,” said Weishar. “In today’s climate of funding uncertainty, the town stepped up and provided the funds to restore the beach because Congress failed to fund the federal portion of the project. This project clearly shows that the town values their beach and the benefits it brings to the community.”
Redondo Beach, CA
Redondo Beach is renowned for the many amenities it offers residents — such as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, surfing year-round (in December 2005 it received some of the largest wave ever recorded at 15-20 feet) and beach volleyball — and the more than 2 million visitors it receives every year. Of course, none of these could be possible without the wide and flat sandy beaches.
The beach area has undergone several nourishment projects since the 1930s. During the last project, 160,000 cubic yards of clean sand was dredged from the Marina del Rey harbor’s north entrance and barged south just offshore at Redondo Beach. About 75,000 cubic yards of sand were placed onshore between the jetty and the beach area; the remaining 85,000 cubic yards were placed offshore for future nourishment needs.
The nourished beach not only allows recreational activities to continue, but it provides public infrastructure protection from storm waves and allows the economic vitality of the local area to thrive.
“The Redondo Beach restoration project demonstrates that a restored beach can be the center of a recreational hub,” said Weishar. “The benefits the restored beach brings to the community are clearly demonstrated. The county was able to work collectively with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and overcome the challenge of the deep offshore canyon that acts as a sediment sink hole.
“Additionally,” Weishar continued, “this project demonstrates that multiple interests of beach restoration, recreation and navigation can be addressed in a single project when a dedicated group of likeminded individuals come together to create a project.”
A complete list of award-winning beaches, and more information about beach restoration and ASBPA, is available online at www.asbpa.org.
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Ken or Kate Gooderham, ASBPA managing directors — (239) 489-2616 or email@example.com
Derek Brockbank, ASBPA executive director – (202) 827-4246 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos available upon request
Local contacts available for all winning beaches; contact us at (239) 489-2616 or email@example.com.
ABOUT ASBPA: Founded in 1926, the ASBPA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that advocates for healthy coastlines by promoting the integration of science, policies and actions that maintain, protect and enhance the coasts of America. For more information on ASBPA, go to www.asbpa.org, Facebook or www.twitter.com/asbpa. This information is provided by the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association. For information, to change your email address or to unsubscribe from this list, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. A complete collection of Beach News Service articles is available for media access online at https://asbpa.org/news/newsroom_beachnews.htm.