Friday, May 22, 2015

The Western Destin Beach Restoration Project Named One of America’s Best Restored Beaches for 2015

The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced today that the Western Destin Beach Restoration Project is a winner of its 2015 Best Restored Beach Award.

“ASBPA created the Best Restored Beach award as a way of highlighting the value of America’s restored beaches,” said Harry Simmons, mayor of Caswell Beach, N.C., and ASBPA president. “As Americans flock to our coastline during the upcoming beach season, most don’t even realize they may be enjoying a restored beach.”

The Western Destin Beach Restoration Project
This project – an initial effort targeting 1.6 miles of critically eroded beach hit by a number of tropical storm events – endured significant controversy, misinformation, litigation and other challenges, which nevertheless led to the construction of a well-performing hallmark of beach restoration. Through sound project planning and design, construction administration and significant public outreach, the project’s success helped to alter the local perspective toward beach nourishment by easing concerns of maintaining the natural sand quality, beach aesthetics and economic productivity.

The restoration project provided substantial economic and ecological benefits to the community, it has achieved short- and long-term success, and the sponsors and project team overcame significant political and environmental challenges during the course of the project. The Western Destin Beach Restoration Project also accomplished multiple objectives typically associated with a beach restoration project — increased storm protection, erosion mitigation, habitat restoration, recreational benefits to the community and economic resiliency for the region.

The Western Destin Beach Restoration project is an environmentally sensitive project that provides storm damage protection for upland property and infrastructure while at the same time increasing nesting habitat for endangered marine turtles and enhancing recreational benefits for residents and tourists alike. This project was funded entirely by the Tourist Development Tax and a Municipal Services Benefit Unit with no cost to local residents”, says Okaloosa County Coastal Management Coordinator, Jim Trifilio.

For more than 50 years, beach restoration has been the preferred method of natural shore protection in coastal communities on the east, west, Gulf and Great Lakes coasts. Beach restoration is the process of placing beach-quality sand on dwindling beaches to reverse or offset the effects of erosion.

The three main reasons for restoration are:

  • Storm protection – A wide sandy beach and offshore bar systems helps separate storm waves from upland structures and infrastructure.
  • Habitat restoration – Numerous species rely on wide, healthy beaches as a place to live, feed and nest.
  • Recreation – America’s beaches have twice as many visitors annually as all of America’s federal and state parks combined. Every year, there are more than 2 billion visitors to America’s beaches.
Coastal communities have restored more than 370 beaches in the United States, including such iconic beaches as Jones Beach in New York, Ocean City in Maryland, Virginia Beach, Miami Beach, South Padre Island in Texas, Venice Beach in California and Waikiki Beach in Hawaii.

During times of economic hardship, the beach can be an even more desirable vacation destination than other domestic and foreign alternatives, offering families and visitors an accessible and affordable getaway. It is also an employment and tax generator:

  • Beaches contribute an estimated $225 billion annually to the America’s economy.
  • Each year, governments take in $570 in taxes from beach tourists for every dollar it spends on beach restoration.
  • Well over half of the nation’s gross domestic product ($7.9 trillion) is generated in 673 counties along the oceans and Great Lakes, according to NOAA’s National Ocean Economics Program.
To enter the Best Restored Beach competition, coastal communities nominated their projects for consideration, and an independent panel of coastal managers and scientists selected the winners. Judging was based on three criteria: the economic and ecological benefits the beach brings to its community; the short- and long-term success of the restoration project; and the challenges each community overcame during the course of the project.

Ed Schroeder, Director of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Department stated, “Okaloosa County and the Tourist Development Department are delighted to learn that the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association has selected the Western Destin Beach Restoration Project as one of only 5 national winners of their Best Restored Beaches of 2015 competition. The Western Destin project provides a beautiful beach where before there was literally no beach. The economic and environmental benefits of this project far outweigh the cost of construction and all of this was accomplished at no cost to our taxpayers.”

A complete list of award-winning beaches, and more information about beach restoration and ASBPA, is available online at

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