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Posted on: January 5, 2024

Beach Restoration Update

Update on Beach Renourishment

The City of Gulf Shores is aware of the impacts on our coastline from the severe weather events our area experienced overnight. Like any winter storm, our beaches will see slight erosion as the sand moves with high winds and rough surf conditions. However, sand lost during winter storms typically relocates just south of the shoreline. It will naturally return to our beaches in the spring when we begin seeing a predominantly southeastern wind pattern.

 

Dredging work as part of the Beach Restoration Project has concluded within Gulf Shores city limits. Over the past two months, crews placed 1.15 million cubic yards of sand on our beaches to expand our shoreline and rebuild our dune system to 12 feet of elevation. The City of Gulf Shores worked with coastal engineers to verify the amount of sand that should be placed along our beaches based on the allowable amount required by FEMA.

 

The next phase of the Beach Restoration Project will begin this spring, with crews replanting approximately 500,000 plants along the newly restored dune system. Replanting is a vital component of this project, as dune vegetation plays a critical role in maintaining dune elevation by anchoring the dunes in place, which can help reduce the impacts of future storms.  

 

Dredging work is currently happening in Orange Beach and will continue until it reaches the AL/FL line. All dredging is expected to be complete in early February.

 

Here is a helpful Q&A about the Beach Restoration Project:

 

Why did some of the sand already wash away in certain areas? 

Inclement weather has affected areas where the sand wasn't fully compacted. This sand is typically relocated just off the shoreline and will eventually shift closer to shore, extending our beaches. However, this shifting usually does not occur until we get a predominantly southeastern wind pattern, usually in the spring months.

 

Will the contractor return to fill in areas that have already experienced some erosion? 

Dredging as part of the Beach Restoration Project is complete within Gulf Shores city limits. The City of Gulf Shores worked with coastal engineers to verify the amount of sand that should be placed along our beaches based on the allowable amount required by FEMA.

 

Why didn't the beach behind my house receive as much sand as other areas? 

The City of Gulf Shores worked with coastal engineers to verify the amount of sand that should be placed along our beaches based on FEMA requirements and the conditions an area experiences throughout the year. As the wind starts to shift in the spring, sand will naturally shift from east to west over the next few months. Due to this, some areas see a tapered fill design that has significantly more sand placed on the eastern areas than the western end. The design allows for a gradual shift of sand from east to west, balancing the shoreline over time.

 

When can I get a permit issued to build my dune walkover? 

Dune walkover permits are now being issued. Permit applications can be found at https://www.gulfshoresal.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1480/Building-Permit?bidId  

 

When will planting begin, and how long will it take? 

Planting is set to commence in late February and is expected to last approximately 10 to 14 days, with minimal impact on beachgoers. Replanting is a vital component of this project, as dune vegetation plays a critical role in maintaining dune elevation by anchoring the dunes in place, which can help reduce the impacts of future storms.  

 

Are beach chairs allowed on back on the beach?

With emergency vehicles now able to traverse the beaches safely, chairs can be placed in all permitted areas. For more information, refer to the beach rules on the City's website: https://www.gulfshoresal.gov/1133/Beaches.

 

Little Lagoon Pass is filled in with sand. When will this area be dredged again? 

Per a court order, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is required to keep Little Lagoon Pass dredged to a depth of three feet to allow the free flow of saltwater into the lagoon. Contractors are on site now and actively dredging the pass to clear the pass of sand. For more information about the dredging at Little Lagoon Pass, please contact ALDOT at (334) 353-6554.

 

For continued updates on the beach restoration project as it continues east into Orange Beach, visit https://olsen-associates.com/gsob/.

 

For more information on beach restoration within the City of Gulf Shores, please contact the Emergency Management Department at 251-968-2425.

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