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County dune restoration update

Discussion in 'All About SoWal' started by SoWalSally, May 14, 2005.

  1. SoWalSally

    SoWalSally Beach Fanatic

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    Walton County to beef up its beach dunes Walton Sun

    Chandler Construction to add sand, plant sea oats along 13.5 miles of coastline; TDC, hurricane grants to cover costs.
    Walton County will soon begin restoring dunes and planting sea oats along 13.5 miles of beach.
    The county has contracted with Chandler Construction to haul 50,000 cubic yards of white sand from Owl?s Head to the beaches to create new dunes.
    The $1,315,920 project should start within two weeks and will take 60 to 75 days to complete, said Brad Pickel, director of beach management with the Walton County Tourist Development Council.
    The TDC will pick up about 5 percent of the cost, and Hurricane Ivan recovery grants from state and federal governments will cover the rest, Pickel said.
    The new sand will be placed in four locations.
    Two areas of beach in western Walton County along Scenic Gulf Drive near Seascape Resort and Conference Center are in desperate need of sand, Pickel said.
    Without new dunes there, Scenic Gulf Drive will likely sustain extensive damage if another hurricane hits, he said.
    ?We have grave concerns (about that road),? Pickel said.
    Jay Nettles, director of operations for Seascape, said there?s nothing but a ?sheer drop-off ? on the southern side of Scenic Gulf Drive near the resort.
    Anything they can do out there will help,? he said.
    Two parts of Inlet Beach will also receive new sand.
    Those areas were part of an experimental porous groyne project and did not benefit from recent efforts to recreate dunes through beach scraping, Pickel said.
    The groyne ? a series of nets designed to build up sand ? accumulated at least 10,000 cubic yards of sand, Pickel said.
    ?Now we have a beach there, but we don?t have a dune,? he said.
    To ensure that the dunes are stabile, the TDC has hired Sarasota-based Aquatic Plants of Florida Inc. to plant 900,000 sea oats, which will take root in the sand and shore up the dunes. The $414,200 project should begin in July, Pickel said.
    The dune restoration and sea oat planting have to be done before the next storm season to protect structures from another hurricane, Pickel said.
    Unfortunately, that means it will be done during sea turtle nesting season.
    Sharon Maxwell of South Walton Turtle Watch said volunteers will quickly relocate any turtle nests found in the areas where work is being done.
    In those areas, we?re going to be concerned,? she said. ?(But) we?ve had very, very good success (moving nests).?
    One area that won?t be getting new sand or sea oats is the area in westernmost Walton County that is slated for a beach renourishment project.
    The beaches there are so narrow that any new sand would wash away with the tide, Pickel said.
    ?There?s no beach there to support a dune,? he said.
    The TDC has been working toward a beach renourishment project that will help return some white sand to 4.5 miles of beach in western Walton.
    The project will involve dredging sand from near the East Pass and pumping it back onto the beaches in western Walton County.
    The project was scheduled to begin last fall, but opposition from a group of property owners has held it up.
    Five property owners have filed petitions to stop the renourishment. Administrative hearings on the issue should take place in June or July.
    Pickel said the TDC hopes to do the renourishment this fall.
    ?The only thing that will help (western Walton) is a large infusion of sand,? he said.
     
  2. phdphay

    phdphay Beach Fanatic

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    Unfortunately, the way people are climbing all over the dunes, I'm afraid that any naturally occurring or planted vegetation will just get trampled down by the clueless tourists and children whose parents allow them to play on the dunes.
     
  3. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    This is a good reminder for all of us who rent out our cottages/condos/homes to put very noticable signs in our vacation rentals to kindly remind guest renters to:

    1. Help us protect the dunes by staying off them so that the dunes can continue to protect South Walton and the critters (many of whom are endangered species) who would like to live near the coast.

    2. Be sensitive to the endangered turtles by not shining flashlights on the beach at night unless they have flashlights with red lights.

    3. Not let dogs run loose on the beach (I'm not sure non-residents can even have dogs on the beach, can they?) and to clean up after them.

    I have these (and other items based on South Walton Beach Regulations) posted in a very noticable place in our cottages and I hope they help. Guests seem to appreciate our sensitivity to preserving the natural environment and experience of South Walton.

    Frankly, when we first bought our cottages in South Walton, we didn't know about the importance of staying off the dunes or not shining bright lights at the beach(we learned quickly), so I assume many other people wouldn't know either, especially if they weren't raised near the beach or weren't exposed to environmentalism (which most people aren't exposed to in school).

    So, I'm all for educating our guests.
     
  4. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    Many thanks to you for taking the initiative.
    Regarding the dogs on the Beach, only dogs with Current Beach permits are allowed on the Beaches of South Walton.
     
  5. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    You are most welcome, Joe. I believe most people want to be good citizens and just need a little help understanding how they can be good citizens. So, guests in vacation rentals in South Walton will thank owners of the rentals for being thoughtful about the environment because most people want to be part of something good and they want to make a difference in the world, however small.

    And we've lost no business at all by posting the Walton County regulations in our rentals. In fact, I think our attention to educating guests is a plus because our guests like to feel they are part of a special community that cares and they want to do their part to preserve South Walton. Our cottages stay booked even though (maybe because) we post the regulations in a prominent place.
     
  6. ShoMeTheBeach

    ShoMeTheBeach Beach Comber

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    On behalf of the clueless tourists, I think it is very helpful for such information to be available in the rental homes. I, for one, did not know that it was bad to use a flashlight on the beach after dark. :idontno: My kids love to hunt crabs in the evening with flashlights, but that's in Gulf Shores and I've never heard that it was bad. I guess they don't have the sea turtle population that SoWal does. Thanks for the info.

    Nancy
     
  7. luvbunniljk

    luvbunniljk Beach Comber

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    what does the flashlight do to hurt the turtles?
     
  8. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    For hatchling sea turtles, artificial light is a killer. Instinct drives them from their nests on beaches towards the brightest horizon, ideally the waterline on an undeveloped coast.

    But the bright lights of coastal development?streetlamps, illuminated parking lots, and buildings?can disorient nesting, egg-laden female turtles and lure newly-hatched baby turtles towards artificial light sources. As hatchlings turn away from the sea to cross into streets and parking lots, they are invariably killed. Extended periods out of the water also leaves them more vulnerable to predators and at greater risk of dying from dehydration and exhaustion.
     
  9. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    It would be useful if the Tourist Development Center had a one-page summary of key Walton County rules and recommendations that all rental properties could post (we also post the safety crab that describes the flags because people wouldn't know what the flags mean either). This would go a long way towards protecting the dunes, turtles and other endangered species. Kurt, you or someone else once mentioned on this site that there's a way to get those red light flashlights. Could you remind us where we get them? We got one at that big fishing store in Destin.
     
  10. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    You could start a thread with contributiuons of the text everyone would like to see on it, and then I can make a MS Word doc link that people can open and print from here. I can also post it on the main sites.

    http://www.seaturtlewatch.org - will know where all the flashlights are. They've distibuted them before also.

    How about "The SoWal Good Tourist Guide"? :lol:
     
  11. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    Thanks for the link for the flashlights. And good idea to use this site with a thread for ideas for a guest document. I'll find my word document with the rules that I had printed up for guests and email it to you as a start. I like the "SoWal Good Tourist Guide" or "SoWalton Good Visitor Guide" since some people who rent vacation properties in SoWalton often think of themselves as regulars rather than tourists. And I'd love to see other recommendations for what should be on the document, as well as any wording suggestions.

    Thanks, again.
     
  12. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    You can just post what you have if you like.

    Repeat after me. SoWal SoWal SoWal. :bang: You'll get the hang of it. :D
     
  13. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    SoWal, SoWal, SoWal, SoWal... How's that? It sure is hard to learn how to become a real beach bum (one of my goals in life). First I had to stop wearing socks with my sandals, then I had to learn to like (and make) key lime pie, then I had to learn about all this environmental stuff, then I had to learn about hurricane survival, and pretty soon you're going to tell me I have to buy good quality tequila and make my margaritas from scratch. You may even make me start using those little smiley faces in my messages. But I'm in it for the long haul so I'm trainable...
     
  14. RiverOtter

    RiverOtter got any pics?

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    Just trying to help :D
     
  15. BeachDreamer

    BeachDreamer Beach Fanatic

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    Bwaahahahaaa! RiverOtter, I love your helpfulness.

    That's interesting about the red flashlights. I didn't know you could use those.
     
  16. seagrovelover

    seagrovelover little sugar

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    Now thats funny RO :floor:
     

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