CAPE SAN BLAS – Cape San Blas has been undergoing a beach
renourishment project for nearly seven weeks. As they are halfway through the
process, vacationers and residents have had their concerns.
Gulf County is in the process of moving 2.1 million cubic
feet of sand from Honeyville to the Cape San Blas beaches. Funded by the
National Fish and Wildlife Federation and the state, in total, the project
costs $5.8 million.
The National Fish and Wildlife Federation portion is $3.7
million for a St. Joseph Peninsula Dune Habitat Enhancement Project, to restore
three miles of shoreline on St. Joseph Peninsula through sand and vegetation
The project is designed to “provide coastal resilience by
increasing the stability and longevity of the beach sand and encouraging
additional dune growth through trapping wind-blown sand, increasing storm
protection by limiting the damaging effects of storm surge, and promoting
wildlife protection and increasing habitat.”
The purpose is to help better protect the houses and other
“A lot of our tax base is here on the cape, so protecting those is obviously
important not just to homeowners, but also the county and to our ad valorem tax
base as well,” said County Engineer Clay Smallwood.
So far, the project has drawn the attention of residents and
tourists on the cape.
“Overall it’s been positive, I think by and large people
understand projects like this to protect the beach, protect their homes and
other infrastructure. Certainly, there are minor inconveniences, it’s a
construction site.” said Smallwood.
The color of the sand, loud construction, and low beach
visibility have been some of the main concerns.
“It is annoying, if anything grows on it then it does block the view. There’s
places down the beach that we would not stay at because there’s too much
shrubbery, you can’t sit and relax at your place, sit and enjoy the beach, or
even watch your kids on the beach,” said vacationer Renee Dehaan.
Dehaan and her family have been visiting the Cape for nearly
five years and said the beach was better in years past.
“There was more room on the beach, we could walk out right
from our place right to the beach, you didn’t have to go over any hills or
steps or walk around,” said Dehaan.
Smallwood says he hopes people see the overall need for the
“We have folks at the pit that are keeping up with that to
make sure it is beach quality sand. We have folks here at the beach that are
keeping an eye on that as well.” said Smallwood.
Other vacationers say the construction hasn’t bothered them.
“They did a really good job. They only came out here and did
construction the other day when there was nobody on the beach. So it didn’t
disturb anybody at the time.” said tourist Scott Herrmann.
He said they understand the overall goal of this project,
and in the meantime, the construction is no big deal.
“Better than the alternative, at some point you’re going to
have big storm surges come in, and it’s better than being a big FEMA site.”
said vacationer Mark Zigler. “You have to replenish the sand, the beach moves.
There are nice houses here; you have to protect them somehow.”
Smallwood says all the equipment should be cleared off the
beach by June 1.
From there, 600,000 shrubbery plants and other vegetation
will be placed in the dunes.
Madalyn Bierster, a reporter for WMBB and mypanhandle.com,
can be reached at [email protected]