(page is under construction, much as the sand drifts back and forth)
Download this PDF to see the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers November 17, 2020 presentation to the Okaloosa County Commissioners regarding Okaloosa County's participation in the Federal Shore Program, including beach profiles, Federal matching funds available for Okaloosa Island, and public access.
COUNTY ORGANIZATION AND INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS
BEACH AND SHORE PRESERVATION
161.142 Declaration of public policy relating to improved navigation inlets.—The Legislature recognizes the need for maintaining navigation inlets to promote commercial and recreational uses of our coastal waters and their resources. The Legislature further recognizes that inlets interrupt or alter the natural drift of beach-quality sand resources, which often results in these sand resources being deposited in nearshore areas or in the inlet channel, or in the inland waterway adjacent to the inlet, instead of providing natural nourishment to the adjacent eroding beaches. Accordingly, the Legislature finds it is in the public interest to replicate the natural drift of sand which is interrupted or altered by inlets to be replaced and for each level of government to undertake all reasonable efforts to maximize inlet sand bypassing to ensure that beach-quality sand is placed on adjacent eroding beaches. Such activities cannot make up for the historical sand deficits caused by inlets but shall be designed to balance the sediment budget of the inlet and adjacent beaches and extend the life of proximate beach-restoration projects so that periodic nourishment is needed less frequently. Therefore, in furtherance of this declaration of public policy and the Legislature’s intent to redirect and recommit the state’s comprehensive beach management efforts to address the beach erosion caused by inlets, the department shall ensure that:
A meeting on Sand and East Pass dredging was held on May 31, 2018 with County representatives and OILA representatives. A summary of this meeting was presented at the June OILA meeting on June 11th by Dave Sherry. That summary can be viewed by downloading the file from the following link.
The following two resolutions were passed at the OILA monthly meeting on March 12, 2018.
Proposed resolution: John Donovan, El Matador Units 132-131
It is resolved, that in the event that a beach renourishment or restoration is proposed for Okaloosa Island monuments R-1 through R-15 or included, that the only acceptable sand source is the East Pass ebb shoal, the East Pass channel, or better.
Proposed resolution: John Donovan, El Matador Units 132-131
It is resolved, that Okaloosa County be requested to re-open and re-write the East Pass Inlet Management Plan, with the Technical Advisory Committee being evenly balanced in its composition, between representatives of Okaloosa Island and representatives of Okaloosa County beaches east of the East Pass. Be it further resolved that the re-written East Pass Inlet Management Plan shall reflect the predominant east to west net sand transport, including a requirement in the implementation plan for sand placement to the west of East Pass.
Aerial view of the beach in May 2016.
Aerial view of the beach from before Hurricane Opal in 1995.
Pictures of the Beach in 1994 from the current Bella Riva Condominium location.
Okaloosa County contracted Taylor Engineering to collect beach profile survey data along the approximately 3.0-mile developed portion of Okaloosa Island and perform analyses of beach shoreline and volume changes to assess the condition of the beach compared to historic survey data. The report documents beach shoreline and volume changes between pre-Hurricane Opal conditions November 1989–January 1990), conditions following Hurricane Dennis (June 2007), and the current beach condition (June 2016).
The report is 72 pages long.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection publishes a report on Critically Eroded Beaches in Florida. The following is a link to that report:
The report is rather long at 92 pages. Below are some significant pages which define "Critically Eroded" and two pages on Okaloosa County beaches.
Definition of “Critically Eroded”
The earlier statewide inventories of critically eroded shorelines included only those erosion areas where there was a threat to development or recreational interests. The current inventory of critically eroded areas is based on an updated and modified definition of critical erosion. “Critically Eroded shoreline” is defined in the Department’s rule 62B-36.002 (5) as
“a segment of the shoreline where natural processes or human activity have caused or contributed to erosion and recession of the beach or dune system to such a degree that upland development, recreational interests, wildlife habitat, or important cultural resources are threatened or lost. Critically eroded areas may also include peripheral segments or gaps between identified critically eroded areas which, although they may be stable or slightly erosional now, their inclusion is necessary for continuity of management of the coastal system or for the design integrity of adjacent beach management projects”.
Erosion is “critical” if there is a threat to or loss of one of four specific interests – upland development, recreation, wildlife habitat, or important cultural resources. Many areas have significant historic or contemporary erosion conditions, yet the erosion processes do not currently threaten public or private interests. These areas are therefore designated as non-critically eroded areas and require close monitoring in case conditions become critical.
In contrast, in some areas the erosion processes are not particularly significant, except to the extent that adjacent public or private interest may be threatened. If there is no threat to interests in need of protection, then an erosion condition is not critical.
Many of the designated critically eroded beaches have been restored through the placement of beach fill material. The shorelines where these beach restoration and nourishment projects have taken place are improved compared to their pre-project condition when they were designated as being critically eroded. Although these beach management projects and their subsequent maintenance have mitigated the original critical erosion conditions, these shorelines retain their critical erosion designation in order to retain their State of Florida funding eligibility, for long term management and beach project maintenance and monitoring. Roughly half of the designated critically eroded beaches are currently managed.
There are three critically eroded beach areas (6.5 miles), and one critically eroded inlet shoreline area:
The 2.8 miles of developed Santa Rosa Island known as Okaloosa Island (R1-R15) near Ft. Walton Beach is critically eroded. Dune restoration projects were constructed after the hurricanes of 1995, 1998, 2004, and 2012.
The east shoreline of East Pass along Norriego Point is experiencing critical inlet shoreline erosion threatening development and recreational interests. This area has bulkheads and retaining walls in front of private development, and a seawall and boulder mound T-groins along the undeveloped segment to the north.
The western 1.6 miles of Destin (R17-R25.5) is designated critically eroded following the severe impact of the 2005 hurricane season and on-going erosion conditions. The western portion on Holiday Isles (R17.2-R19.8) received emergency nourishment in 2010, and the entire beach restoration project was completed in 2013.
The eastern 2.1 miles of Destin (R39-R50) is designated critically eroded
threatening development and the coastal road. This area is a beach restoration project constructed in 2007.
(Last updated June, 2014)
At the February 13, 2017 meeting of the Okaloosa Island Leaseholders Association the following two beach related resolution were passed:
1. Resolved that the Okaloosa Island Leaseholders Association would support extending the existing U. S. Army Corps of Engineers permit application for nourishment of the beach and berms on Okaloosa Island.
2. Resolved that OILA ask the Okaloosa County Commissioners to immediately begin searching for a better quality sand source to insert in the permit for use in any beach restoration on Okaloosa Island.
Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel's Newsletter (March 8, 2017)
Sand Creates its Own Storm
Those of us who have lived on the Florida Panhandle for a long time clearly remember the devastation caused by past hurricanes, including Erin and Opal in 1995, George in 1998, Isidore in 2002, Ivan in 2004, and Dennis in 2005. I will never forget when Hurricane Opal sent the Gulf of Mexico washing over Okaloosa Island into the Sound and stranding hundreds of boats on Highway 98 in Fort Walton Beach. The devastation to the Island and our community was shocking. Highway 98 between Destin and Brooks Bridges was washed away. The only means of travel was the Mid-Bay Bridge. Residents were unable to return to their homes on Okaloosa Island because of safety issues. Businesses were disrupted. And tourism, well it ceased as we begun the process of rebuilding.
So what do these historical events have to do with the recent discussions in various news outlets regarding reauthorization by the Okaloosa Board of County Commission to allow a 15-year permit required by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for any beach re-nourishment project? Everything.
Authorizing this permit now is necessary because we need to be able to address infrastructure issues immediately after a serious storm. The calamity would be not to pursue a permit at this time. As citizens you would rightly consider the County Commission to be derelict in our duties if we had not secured this permit ahead of any tropical events. Without this permit any necessary re-nourishment projects, even emergency projects, would be delayed many months until the required permits were obtained. We have been blessed not to have a storm for over a decade. But history tells us that we will be hit again someday.
So what exactly does the reauthorization of this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit provide to the County? It gives the Board of County Commission the ability to conduct beach re-nourishment, on an as-needed basis, to maintain the beach design template. The reauthorization of this permit does not mean that any beach re-nourishment is planned or anticipated. The intent of the permit at this time is to make sure we have such permits to allow us to take future action in a timely manner, but only if necessary. ANY re-nourishment project would require a future affirmative vote of the Board of County Commission.
Before any beach restoration was approved, the Board of County Commissioners would consider cumulative impacts including AESTHETICS of sand color and quality, conservation, economics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply,, water quality, energy needs, safety, food, and fiber production, mineral needs, and considerations of property ownership.
I stated during our recent BCC meeting that if such any re-nourishment was required due to beach erosion as a result of a storm, that as the Commissioner that represents Okaloosa Island, I would strongly oppose any such project unless the sand placed on our beaches was of equal quality that matched the beauty of our Island. Nothing less! To that end, the BCC voted to create a citizen board to look at sand to find a match should restoration ever be seriously considered, that the residents and business owners could agree on. The steps taken by the Board of County Commission were proactive and prudent measures to protect the most valuable nature resource in Okaloosa County, our sugar white beaches.
The members of this appointed committee are as follows: Mr. Mike Mitchell, former Okaloosa County Commissioner and Dave Hancock, representatives from the Okaloosa Island Leaseholders Association, Mr. Vince Brunner, Esq. and Mr. Joe Guidry, representatives from the business community, Dave Sherry and Larry Bush, Esq representatives from the Condo Alliance of Okaloosa Island. This committee is tasked with reporting to the Commissioners at the April BCC meeting on the satisfaction of the quality of sand if needed for future re-nourishment.
Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel is the Chairman for the Okaloosa County Commission. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-651-7105