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Planting of vegetation begins on Sunset Beach’s restored sand dunes

Posted on October 16, 2023

TREASURE ISLAND — Final grading of new sand has taken place on Sunset Beach, with planting of vegetation on sand dunes commencing this week.

City officials want to spread the word that Sunset Beach is still closed as the dune restoration project continues. However, the Caddy’s and Ka’Tiki restaurants are open, but public parking lots in the area are closed.

Large trucks have been busy hauling sand onto the beach, with 100 trucks spreading sand each morning and another 100 by afternoon.

In its latest update the city advises, “Emergency sand dune restoration has been in action for a few weeks now on Sunset Beach and things are trucking along nicely. The dunes are taking shape … the county plans to start planting some vegetation on the dunes. The beaches are still closed as heavy equipment and workers continue building. The city is still asking people to stay off the beach and the dunes as this project progresses.”

Beach restoration is paid for by Pinellas County using tourist development tax dollars.

County Emergency Management officials noted the project “is separate from the federal beach nourishment project that is currently on hold with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”

Areas along the beach where private property owners have not signed construction easements, which allow contractors to temporarily traverse their sandy area, will not be renourished. County easements are different from Army Corps restrictions that also require recreational easements in perpetuity.

County officials warn that property owners who want to move sand back on the beaches after Hurricane Idalia must notify Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s patrol team for sea turtle protection before starting.

An inspection is required for each day that work is done. Coastal Construction Control Line program permitting requirements must be followed under the State of Florida’s emergency order emergency order.

Property owners are not to place sand in the dune line, county emergency management officials noted. Debris, boulders, rocks and rubble cannot be placed on the beaches for any reason. Some activities may require additional permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pinellas County and the local municipality.

In the latest update, city officials noted that final grading “may require the contractor to traverse large sections of the beach at any given time, making it unsafe for beachgoers to enter … TIPD will be patrolling the area to make sure people stay off the beach as the work progresses. This is for the safety of everyone.”

Phase II, which started this week, “will entail planting dune vegetation which will delineate access paths from each property. There will be stakes used to mark these planting areas. Please leave them in place,” city officials said.

“The contractor will be responsible for watering the vegetation through the establishment period, so we ask that well-intended residents refrain from adding additional water to the plants as this could harm the drought-tolerant plants. We thank everyone for their help and understanding through this process and we are grateful for the beautiful new dune system,” the city said.

Commemorative benches from 110th Avenue South have been removed in preparation for the emergency dune restoration. The benches will be stored at Treasure Bay.

City officials said the project will not affect the annual Sanding Ovations event held in November on the main beach behind Gulf Front Park, 10400 Gulf Boulevard.

Dune restoration has also started on Pass-A-Grille beach in St. Pete Beach, with plans to include a small area on Upham Beach.


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