Tourism

Anna Maria's Cortez Beach groins project, Longboat Key beach renourishment get state funding

MANATEE -- Appropriations from the $79 billion Florida state budget passed this week will include funds for some of Manatee County's world-renowned beaches.

Anna Maria Island's Cortez Beach groins project will receive $2.5 million, and another $1.5 million is dedicated to Longboat Key beach renourishment.

Renourishing Manatee County's beaches and slowing erosion through rebuilding groins supports recreation for residents of the county, officials say, and bolsters Florida's top economic engine, tourism.

For every $1 the state set aside for beach projects in fiscal year 2012-2013, the return on investment was $48.60 in revenues, according to a Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association report.

State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said beach renourishment has picked up in the past 10 years and keeps tourism in Florida running "on all six cylinders."

"If we can continue to

make sure they don't erode and that they're available and robust, it's going to mean we continue to have a draw," Galvano said.

Funding for the reconstruction of the Cortez Beach groins will pay for the construction and any related incidentals. Possible construction costs include security fencing, replacing vegetation around the work site and other permit requirements, according to Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department Director Charlie Hunsicker.

The beaches on Anna Maria Island lose an estimated 10 feet of beach per year, Hunsicker said, and the reconstructed Cortez Beach groins will slow erosion. The original groins were constructed in the 1960s and allow about 40 to 45 percent of shore through the groins. Permeable beach groins, or structures allowing some flow through instead of completely stopping it, prevent sand piling up on one side of the groin.

The new groins will be modeled after the originals. The new design will also allow Manatee County to add or remove pilings to the structure as Hunsicker's department sees fit.

"If we have underestimated the porosity we need, we can go back and remove some of those pilings and make it more pervious," Hunsicker said. "If we've underestimated and we are losing more sand, we can go back and insert more pilings back in."

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection maintains a list of beach projects and identifies priority projects for the purpose of budget decision-making, Galvano said. It's a constant process because beach renourishment has no end date.

"The thing about beach renourishment is it's never over; as time goes on, there's always erosion," Galvano said.

Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key received money in last year's state budget, as well. Coquina Beach was another dedicated beach renourishment project in the 2014-2015 budget.

Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter @jayohday.

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