Tag Archives: Expense of Beach Re-nourishment

Beach Re-nourishment vs. Mother Nature

Homes and Condos at Sailfish Point compromised by beach erosion-with newly constructed seawall, 2-12-14
Homes and Condos at Sailfish Point compromised by beach erosion-with newly constructed seawall and birm, 2-22-14.   (Photo JTL)

The trucks come in about once a year and dump millions of dollars worth of tax payer sand on Martin County beaches and other’s throughout our state. Then winter’s storms arrive and wash it back into the ocean, covering and damaging our nearshore reefs. But at least the turtles have a place to lay their eggs…?

Erosion is a natural part of all coastal barrier islands, in fact, time lapse photography would show these islands moving, like giant sea slugs, changing shape, due to  erosion and accretion, over time.

However, it is mostly the man made inlets that change the erosion pattern along our beaches and cause the issues we have today. http://martincountycoastal.org/program_projects.html 

Before modern man settled this area, inlets along the Indian River Lagoon came and went with the whims of Mother Nature. Looking at old maps, one sees documentation of changing  natural inlets over time. Jupiter and Indian River Inlet north of  Ft Pierce were the only long standing opening to the sea in our area most recently. Over thousands of years, others came and went, all along the lagoon. Peck’s Lake in Martin County broke through as recently as 1960 and was quickly “closed…” 

In 1892 in today’s Martin County, then Dade, Captain Henry Sewall’s inspired local men to dig a permanent inlet, by hand. My historian mother has  told me stories of other inlet attempts as well. According to her, one time, the men fell asleep after the exhausting dig, only to awake and find the tide coming in, filling in their work! One local’s pet raccoon was tied to a tree and taken away by the strong waters. Even today, Mother Nature want’s to fill back in the St Lucie Inlet, but we continue to resist her.

Very interesting is that “old maps” also show Jupiter Island on equal “terms” with Sailfish Point. But today Jupiter Island is much “further back” as she has eroded over time and been slowly swept into the sea. This remains an problem of enormous proportions today that is on the verge of law suit. Last year, the Army Corp of Engineers informed Martin County they wish to take the lovely textured, offshore sands of Stuart, to re-nourish,  Dade and Broward Counties beaches. Unbelievable…

The inlets give us access to the ocean, they raise the value of our property, they were and could be again national defense.  Most timely for today, in the case of the St Lucie Inlet,  it allows the putrid waters slugging forth during rainy season from C-23; C-24 ; C-44; and worst of all from Lake Okeechobee, to go to sea.

There are those who believe we should let the inlet close up;  and there are many who believe we should fill in the canals; there are those who believe the inlet is what defines Martin County and we should do everything to keep her open. Hmm…

One thing for sure, fighting Mother Nature is a full time job.