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Army Corps tweaks Brevard beach renourishment to focus on dunes in county’s mid section

Posted on March 20, 2024

With hurricane season on the horizon and turtle nesting season just over a month away, crews are scrambling to shore up Brevard’s vulnerable Mid-Reach dune area with extra sand before they have to halt work until November.

For some residents of this narrow barrier island, the sight of dump trucks carting in sand is welcome. It’s their buffer from the next big storm. For others, though, it brings concerns that too much sand will bury and destroy a rare reef the federal government deems “essential fish habitat.”

For now, dunes will be the focus of where sand goes along this stretch of beach, and how much of the reef gets buried remains to be seen — especially by the environmentalists watching.

Citing “delays in equipment availability,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced plans to focus on dunes from South Patrick Shores to Indian Harbour Beach Club, until April 30, when all work on the beach must stop because of endangered and threatened sea turtle nesting.

The $47.6 million sand-pumping and placement project to restore dunes and beach from Pineda Causeway to South Spessard Holland Park had been delayed for several weeks because of problems with the dredge. By law, putting sand on the beach should end by the start of turtle nesting season on April 30.

“The change is being adopted to provide maximum coastal protection to the most critically eroded areas of the Mid-Reach before the start of the 2024 hurricane season given the limited time remaining to work on the beach,” Corps officials said in the release. “This change has been coordinated with Brevard County, the project’s non-federal sponsor, to best meet the goal of the authorized project to provide coastal protection while in compliance with all relevant environmental and regulatory requirements.”

Then, when the sand project resumes in November, the contractor — Dutra Dredging, of San Rafael, California — will return to complete adding sand to “the dunes and all templated berms in the Mid-Reach segment, as well as renourishment of the entire South Reach segment as originally planned,” Corps officials said in a release. “The berm generally refers to the area of the beach between the dunes and the water.”

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