Coastal Management: Beach Nourishment
The beaches of Pinellas County attract millions of visitors every year and are enjoyed by residents of the entire Tampa Bay area. Not only do the beaches support tourism and the general economy of the area, they help protect the barrier islands and the property on which homes, schools and businesses thrive. Beaches play a vital role in the marine environment, with sea turtles, nesting birds and other wildlife dependent on the beach for survival.
are naturally in a constant state of change as they are acted upon by daily wave action, seasonal storms and other effects of the sea. As the barrier islands of Pinellas County were developed, filled with homes and businesses, condominiums and roads, the beach ran out of room to naturally transform. The Gulf of Mexico was becoming dangerously close to property, and an erosion problem was identified.
To manage the ongoing erosion, a nourishment program helps protect the homes, schools and businesses along the beaches with projects that pump sand along the coast and build up the beaches. The beaches are monitored and projects are scheduled based on the amount of erosion that occurs. Other remedies are used as well to help slow down the process. This Erosion Control Program is supported by the shared funding from the federal, state and county.
The Benefits of Nourishment
The preservation of the beaches is essential in maintaining the quality of life that residents value and which attracts visitors throughout the year.
Storm protection – Barrier islands are nature’s buffer between the destructive force of the Gulf of Mexico and the mainland. The islands stretch from Fort De Soto Park in the south to Caladesi State Park in the north. Between the parks are the 12 municipalities located on barrier islands. The beach is the primary protection for the homes, schools, churches and businesses that are built upon the islands.
- Tourism – The hospitality industry supports the economy, provides jobs and even helps pay for the beach nourishment.
- 95 percent of visitors consider the beach the No. 1 reason for choosing the area to spend their vacations.
- Employment – More than 82,000 jobs in Pinellas County are created by tourists visiting the beaches. In addition to the residents employed by the hospitality industry, the local businesses benefit from the business that the tourists bring to the area, and jobs are created by the demands of a year-round population that is just under 1 million people. Many residents live in Pinellas County because of the beaches and other natural attractions.
- Support of nourishment – The beaches attract visitors, and in turn, the 1-percent tax collected from the hotel/motel industry helps support the beach nourishment projects.
Environmental – Wide beaches provide habitat for shorebirds. Sea Turtles use the beaches to lay eggs and are protected under state and local ordinances. A monitoring program ensures that the regulations are followed and the hatchlings have the best chance of survival. Learning about the sea turtles and seeing the nests is also an opportunity for education and are a delight to local residents and visitors.
and beautiful beaches is vital to the
economy of Pinellas County.
- There are many other positive impacts that are a result of the maintenance of the beach, both economic and environmental. But the value of the simple pleasure that the beach brings to residents and visitors cannot be measured.
- Beach Facts for residents about beach nourishment
The Sand Key, Treasure Island and Long Key Nourishment
Project are federal projects, administered
by the Jacksonville District U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers. The typical cost sharing
for the project is 60% federal (Army Corps),
20% state (Florida Department of Environmental
Protection) and 20% local (Pinellas County).The
Army Corps administers construction of
the project, while Pinellas County assists
with permitting, providing easements and
staging areas, funding, and local management
for the project.
The Pinellas County portion
of the funding comes from the tourist development
tax. One half of 1% of the 5% tax is set
aside annually for beach projects, generating
nearly $2 million per year. This tourist tax dedication guarantees that no local tax dollars are spent on beach nourishment.
Visit our beaches:
County maintains three major parks along the Gulf
offer a list amenities that
include picnicking facilities, fishing opportunities
and other items of interest to residents and tourists
alike. more on county beaches >