Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

No money for beach renourishment in Scott's budget

Emerson Cooper, 15, prepares to surf the waves of Upham Beach Friday afternoon as construction gear for beach renou-rishment sits in the background.

LARA CERRI | Times

Emerson Cooper, 15, prepares to surf the waves of Upham Beach Friday afternoon as construction gear for beach renou-rishment sits in the background.

For decades taxpayers have been footing the bill to pump extra sand onto eroding beaches around Florida. But this coming year may be different.

Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget for next year includes no money for repairing any of Florida's 825 miles of sandy beaches.

By cutting out new state funding, Scott is guaranteeing that the millions of dollars in federal funds that go with it as a match are cut as well, warned state Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole.

That would leave no money for already-scheduled renourishment projects, including two local ones, Treasure Island and Upham Beach.

"It's unfortunate, given how much the governor talks about jobs," Jones said, contending that Florida's tourism-based economy depends on regularly pumping more sand on its beaches.

Robin Grabowski, president of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, called it "a very unfortunate decision" by Scott. "I don't think he's looking at it from a long-term perspective."

So many beach communities want state funding this year that their requests total $101 million, state Department of Environmental Protection officials say. But Scott requested the Legislature appropriate nothing for renourishment.

Scott spokeswoman Amy Graham said the DEP has $75 million from prior years that it hasn't spent yet, but Deborah Flack, president of the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association, said that money is already committed to other renourishment projects — including one at Sand Key.

A 2003 study by Florida Atlantic University found that each state dollar spent protecting Florida's beaches that have public access prevents the loss of $8 in state taxes paid by out-of-state tourists and resident users of those beaches.

Barrier islands are not fixed in place. They move, waxing here, waning there, pushed and pulled as the waves wash their sand this way and that.

But once people began building homes and businesses on the beaches, they began looking for ways to make the movement stop. Engineers have been using new sand — dug up offshore and pumped to the land — to boost the size of beaches since 1922, when Coney Island needed enhancement.

Since then, more than 300 major renourishment projects have been pursued nationwide, dumping a total of 517 million cubic yards of sand on the country's waning beachfronts, according to a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Florida's beaches have reaped the greatest number of federally funded renourishment projects. Thirty-five of Florida's 67 counties have used taxpayer money to artificially enhance their beaches. Pinellas County's beaches have been renourished repeatedly since 1966.

The DEP has designated about 399 miles of the state's 825 miles of sandy beaches as "critically eroded." Since 1998, the state has spent $489.78 million on beach renourishment projects on 218 miles of that 399.

Thirteen years ago the Legislature voted to spend up to $30 million a year on beach renourishment, with the money coming from the sale of documentary stamps applied to real estate transactions. But when the real estate market collapsed, the money from documentary stamps eroded more rapidly than any beach.

"The last few years have been a struggle," Flack said. Still, the state Legislature has come up with about $15 million a year for the past two years.

Skipping a year of funding might not seem like a big deal, said Indian Rocks Town Council member Bill Smith, who serves on the board of the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association.

"One year is probably not much of an issue except it means more sand will be needed next year so it will be more expensive," he said.

However, he said, "the longer we wait, the more erosion occurs and the more expensive beach renourishment will be. And the narrower the beach, the less protection it offers from hurricanes."

Craig Pittman can be reached at craig@sptimes.com

No money for beach renourishment in Scott's budget 03/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2011 10:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 16, 2017

    Blogs

    Seems like Broward County has started a domino effect. It was the first school board to commit to filing a lawsuit against the state and its controversial education bill, House Bill 7069. Then, the St. Lucie County School Board signed on, too. A running tally of school boards that have reportedly expressed interested in …

    Kali Davis (left), training director for Springboard to Success, helps to coach Justin Black (center), who will be starting his third year of teaching PE at Melrose Elementary, as he works to instruct students in a math lesson during the Spring Board program of Summer Bridge at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg.
  2. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  3. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees

    Politics

    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  4. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  5. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.