A topic that I found interesting this past week in class was one that I came across when we split into different groups to work on different scenarios taking place in Florida. My group was responsible for figuring out how to build a hotel in Florida based on where Highway A1A was situated. In Miami, the resorts, bars, and other attractions are located right on the beach front with barely any buffer separating the infrastructures and the ocean. The opposite is the case in Fort Lauderdale where highway A1A acts as a slight buffer between the closest properties to the ocean and the ocean itself. The problem for our group to tackle was whether or not we wanted to build a resort right against the water, say in Miami, or a little ways behind the highway, like in Fort Lauderdale. The question that was raised was what solution would decrease beach erosion while simultaneously increasing profit. This topic interested me because I was already kind of familiar with the problem of beach erosion
I’ve been going to the Outer Banks every summer since I was born, so I’ve been able to witnessed first had how the beaches there have changed. The design of the beaches in the Outer Banks is very similar to that of Miami, with properties all along the shore line and a main road directly behind these properties. In recent years, more and more homes have been destroyed due to an increased number of hurricanes. The state of North Carolina has been talking about pumping sand onto the beach in order to buffer the erosion from occuring while simultaneously saving pilings of very important bridges. There is still debate, however, of whether not pumping of sand needs to occur along all of the beaches or just on the inward parts of the island.Here is an article that discusses how policy on pumping sand is changing to lean more towards protecting the environment rather than protecting people’s investments and properties. Here is an article that refers to the beginnings of dredging sand in order to support the Bonner Bridge.
Another beach, a little closer to home, that resembles one discussed in class is Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach mirrors Fort Lauderdale in some ways in regards to there being no property on the shoreline. However, instead of having a highway act as a buffer (like in Florida), Virginia Beach has a boardwalk. Thousands of tourists flock to Virginia Beach in the summertime, thus maintenance of the beaches during the off season is key in keeping revenue for the city up. The pumping of this sand is supposed to be apart of a “beach nourishment” which will act as a buffer to the sea. This part of the beach nourishment project, however, is sort of a double edged sword because it will be protecting properties and keeping tourist dollars high but the process requires bulldozers to be on the beach for extended amounts of time in addition to unfamiliar sand being added to a very delicate ecosystem. Here is an article that discusses the plans for the beach nourishment including the steps as well as who’s funding it and what it entails.
The protection of beaches is very important because the coast is not only where over 40% of the US population is but also where numerous habitats live. In the future, I’m hoping there can be compromises that can attend to the needs of the populations among the beach, both human and non-human.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3irmHyh2i4
The video above shows bulldozers in Virginia Beach pumping sand back into the area in order to “replenish” it and get it ready for the upcoming tourist season.