For millions of people, beaches provide an opportunity to bond with nature and to slow down and catch one’s breath. The beach provides a magical formula where a person can close their eyes, relax in the sun and listen to the surf. It also provides a form of escapism and an opportunity to be contemplative or simply seek fun. Brevard County, Florida recently approved a plan to spend $73 million in local, state and federal tax dollars to bulk up and beautify beaches from Cape Canaveral to Melbourne Beach.
Nearly $43 million dollars of the money would be applied to refurbish Satellite and Indian Harbour Beach. Brevard County is committed to paying back more than $16 million over five years and hopes the feds would be able to commit to paying $43 million over the next four years. Tourist development is also on Brevard County’s to-do list. Tourism is an important factor that drives Florida’s economy and is one of the state’s greatest sources of income. Estimated income from tourism is around $40 billion dollars.
For fiscal year 2015-16, Brevard County estimates it would spend $7.8 million in tourist development and hopes there will be a match of $23.5 million in federal and state funds. Brevard County receives matching funds from the Tourist Development Council through taxation of hotel rooms and various short-term rentals.
Local governments have a deadline of July 31 to apply for state money to renourish Florida beaches. A supporting resolution includes a five-year beach renourishment funding plan, and a beach project schedule that covers ten years. Indian Harbour Beach and Satellite Beach property owners could be enjoying wider shores as early as 2015 if funding goes through.
Indian Harbour Beach and Satellite Beach Artificial Reef Build
Artificial reefs can be a tremendous benefit to marine life. What makes Florida’s reefs so special is that they are designed with conservation and planned monitoring activities in mind. While there are obvious biological benefits, an artificial reef can also provide recreational fishing, commercial fishing, and sport diving opportunities.
The Florida legislature recently approved nearly $2 million to build artificial reefs at Indian Harbour Beach and Satellite Beach. This funding represents a big milestone for a beach-building project that has been 15 years in the making. Brevard currently has $2.6 million in country tourist money that is set aside for the project. This money comes from county tourist taxes.
Beach Widening Projects
Brevard County officials plan, as early as 2017, to add 573,000 cubic yards of sand that spans nearly eight miles of beach. The beach expansion will be just south of Patrick Air Force Base heading south to Flug Avenue. Beach goers will gain an additional 10 to 20 feet of beach. The cost for Brevard will be $29 million.
There are those who support the beach renourishment project, and those who oppose it. Infantani chose to vote against the project in the hope of pushing for tourist tax money to be utilized for other things, like adding additional lifeguards and lagoon dredging. Currently, tax money is not used for these purposes. Other concerns include that of Mike Daniel, chairman of the Surfrider Foundation’s Inlet Chapter. What will the impact be on green turtles, the natural reef, sea life, surf breaks and fishing?
Supporters of the renourishment project include, Virginia Baker, Brevard County’s Natural Resources Management Department. She feels that adequate mitigation will be able to protect surfing and sea life conditions. The County Commissioner, Curt Smith, is supportive of Brevard County beach renourishment in light of the fact that local property taxes will not be used to fund it.
Before the beach can be built, federal officials caution that the reef must be built first. Heavy storms have caused considerable damage to the beaches for more than a decade. Dunes were depleted and sand had to be hauled in by truck to patch them after every major storm. Environmental concerns are enough to delay any large-scale project. Coquina shell sediments, considered to be an essential fish habitat, require the fed’s approval as a result of any projects that might impact fish habitats.
What the Artificial Reef Will Entail
Brevard’s artificial reef will complement roughly three acres of rock that would be buried by additional sand. This is less than ten percent of the rock that’s currently in the project area. After building the reef, the plan is to use dredges to harvest sand located several miles off Cape Canaveral. From there, trucks will haul the sand to Indian Harbour Beach and Satellite Beach.
Beach Restoration Is Good for the Entire State of Florida
Brevard County has been working hard, since 2000, to make its beaches a desired destination for both residents and tourists. Having received $134 million during this period is helping Brevard reach its goals. It is estimated by Brevard County that each dollar spent on beach restoration generates $48.60 in revenues. Beach tourism is huge, and generates $1.6 billion in annual revenue and provides indirect and direct benefits for Brevard.