Jacksonville, Fla. – The Duval County Shore Protection Project was recognized today by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) as one of the nation’s best restored beaches for 2019. Actually, the project includes four county beaches that were recognized: Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville beaches, and Hannah Park, too!
The ASBPA selected the project for many reasons; however, the outstanding and dedicated teamwork that led to back-to-back major sand renourishments on more than eight miles of shoreline after two major hurricanes – Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017 – was its greatest success.
"Our beaches are a big part of what makes our city a unique and attractive destination for our residents and visitors," said Mayor Lenny Curry. "The Duval County Shore Protection Project was critical to helping our beaches recover from hurricanes Matthew and Irma. I am grateful for the collaborative efforts from the City, beaches communities and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Our beaches are an integral part of our city and play an important role in our future."
The project demonstrated how to execute and succeed in the face of compounding challenges associated with consecutive major hurricane years and navigating federal, state, and local procedural and procurement environments. Multiple stakeholders, including the Corps of Engineers, City of Jacksonville, Olsen & Associates, beach communities and residents, worked to overcome obstacles. State and federal agencies worked tirelessly and accelerated normal process timeframes to ensure protection was in place prior to the next hurricane season.
Hurricane Matthew caused a loss of about 680,000 cubic yards (or the equivalent of about 206 Olympic swimming pools) of sand from the beaches in October 2016.
“The team’s emergency preparedness and response restored the beach to pre-storm conditions in record time,” Corps Project Manager Jason Harrah said. This reduced the impacts resulting from Hurricane Irma, which caused a loss of roughly 660,000 cubic yards of sand less than a year later in September 2017. The Corps of Engineers was able to take advantage of existing beach construction contracts to cost-effectively repair the beaches after Hurricane Matthew, and again following Irma, he said.
The goal of engineered shore protection projects is to reduce risk and promote resilience in coastal communities. These federal shore projects help to reduce the damages – economic, environmental, infrastructure, human health and safety – of tropical storms and hurricanes. Thousands of residents and businesses in Duval County benefit from this shore project because storm events erode the beach rather than damaging or destroying infrastructure. Coastal communities with engineered beaches have historically fared much better than other communities as proven by numerous studies.
Along with providing economic stability and opportunities, beach nourishment projects also have inherent benefits in restoring critical habitat for shorebird and marine turtle nesting. Numerous species rely on wide, healthy beaches as a place to live, feed, rest and nest. Additionally, Florida beaches in 2013 had an annual recreational value of about $50 billion. In areas where eroded beaches were restored, tourist visits and revenues increased.