Indian Pass dune restoration expected to finish by June

There is about a mile left of beach on the Indian Pass peninsula left to cover in the county’s large-scale dune restoration effort, said Gulf County’s Engineer Clayton Smallwood in the county commissioners’ March 22 meeting.

The project, which began in October, was expected to take about five months to complete, but Smallwood says he expects work to be finished on Indian Pass around June 1.

“There’s just over a mile left on the Indian Pass stretch to do, so kind of at the rate they’re going, it’s looking like Memorial Day weekend or the first weekend in June,” he told the commissioners. “Something along those lines is when they’ll finish, and then we’ll have to make a decision on the next stretch of beach we go to.”

The project was set to begin its second leg, which will cover the north end of Cape San Blas, before Sea Turtle season begins on May 1, but with phase one of the project behind schedule, the stretch might need to wait until the fall.

“By permit, we can only be on there between October 1 and the end of spring, so that’s where we have to look at the calendar,” Smallwood said. “That’s what we’ve got to figure out.”

At the meeting, commissioners also learned that the County had secured 100 percent of the funding they applied for for a project that aims to reduce the rate of erosion on the stretch of beaches from Sunrise Sunset Vacation Rentals to the Rocks.

The 100 underwater structures would be placed in the Gulf of Mexico a little ways from the shore, said Smallwood. They could reduce the rate of erosion by up to 40 percent, giving the county more time between beach renourishment projects.

“We have received the grant agreement from DEP. This is Grant Agreement 22GU1. This is for $15.5 million for the beach restoration, the coastal structures project. And they are funding that at 100 percent. We originally thought we only get about 38 percent, but the state is funding that at 100 percent.”

The state funding, while covering 100 percent of the amount the county applied for, will only cover about 70 percent of the project’s actual cost, said Smallwood. 

“We’ve got some money in Restore, and we’ve got some other pots, but it’s a bigger project than just $15 million,” he said.

Still, county officials said it was a large step in being able to get the coastal structures placed.

“This is great news, but we’re not through the permitting, so it’s not going to happen quick,” said County Administrator Michael Hammond.

Smallwood said he didn’t expect construction to begin on the project until next year.


Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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