A stretch of Sunset Beach is shown in 2017 before sand nourishment efforts, left, and after in 2018. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study concluded that Sunset and Sunshine beaches require beach nourishment, and also installation of dune and berm features. via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

FL - Army Corps Study: Sunset and Sunshine Beaches Face Worse Erosion in County

TREASURE ISLAND — When it comes to erosion rates from tidal action and rising sea levels, an Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Storm Risk Management Study predicts some coastal areas along Treasure Island could see the highest levels of dune and beach loss in the county.

During a City Commission meeting Aug. 18, Army Corps officials told city leaders their study concluded that Sunset and Sunshine beaches especially require periodic beach nourishment, and most important installation of dune and berm features.

In addition, the report reveals the future does not bode well for sea turtles, who over time will face the greatest danger with potential loss of their natural breeding grounds and habitat due to coastal beach erosion. However, they also face peril if remediation is not calculated carefully and creates sand dunes that are too high and impede hatchlings from heading out to sea.

In its study, the Army Corps noted an improved beach erosion control project could begin after a 50-year federal funded program is appropriated in 2027. The report emphasized its proposed plan is mindful of protecting sea turtles’ natural migration routes, even restoring nesting habitats. For example, an improved dune slope could provide a more welcoming environment for nesting turtles.

The study found erosion on Sunset and Sunshine beach is occurring quickly, along with Upham Beach in St. Pete Beach. Those beach areas showed the highest amount of erosion damage on the county’s coast.

Erosion rates reach a maximum of almost 43 feet per year at Sunset Beach, while the centers of the island are eroding at a rate of approximately 1 foot per year, the study warns.

Surveyors found the dune system at Sunset and Sunshine beaches is almost non-existent.

“The existing Treasure Island … shoreline in the vicinity of the project has a predominantly variable, low elevation, dune system. Treasure Island existing dune heights, relative to the upland elevation, range from 2 to 3 feet at Sunshine Beach and 0 feet to 4 feet in Sunset Beach,” the survey concluded.

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