Fighting beach erosion naturally in St Pete

06/22/09 Andrea Lypka
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On June 20, 2009, approximately 200 people volunteered their time to plant 10,000 sea oat seedlings on St. Pete Beach as part of a multi-faceted beach preservation project initiated by the city’s Beach Stewardship Committee. The sea oats plants were provided by Pinellas County to help the city deal with its severe beach erosion problems, says committee chair, Kevin Hing.

“Planting sea oats is a natural solution that helps to prevent erosion. When they grow, these sea oats trap sand on the beach and create natural sand dunes, which in turn provide habitat for wildlife and help to maintain a protective buffer of sand against storms.”

Another organization, the Surfriders Foundation, also proposes reliance on natural alternatives to combat beach erosion. Jessica Respondek of the Suncoast Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation said that members of the organization are finalizing the proposals for beach re-nourishnment.

On Madeira Beach the Suncoast Chapter of Surfrider Foundation showed off the 200 sea oats their volunteers planted on May 16. Chairman Jessica Respondek says that the organization supports natural solutions to renourish the beach.

“Unfortunately, we don’t see what they (Beach Stewardship Committee) see in the structures and there is a lot of people who agree with us, including the whole state of North Carolina, as they don’t allow coastal armoring at all,” said Respondek.

The organization also tries to pass the Beach Access Bill, says one of the members, Laura Henry has been with the organization for 20 years.

“The beach is supposed to be public land and a lot of people are trying to privatize it. They are putting out fake signs that say Public Beach. We are trying to get more enforcement out to prevent people from doing that,” Henry said.

Volunteers cleaned up Archibald Park from trash, including plastic and cigarette buds and celebrated International Surfing Day.

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