Along Florida’s east coast, sand drifts from north to south. Where it comes from and where it goes is ruled by wind and water.
Sometimes our beaches feel wide and serene. At other times, finding a dry place to walk below a seawall is impossible.
The ocean has a way of reminding us of nature’s power. Yet, for years we have built homes and condos on the dunes. Now, we search for ways to save them. We are caught in an intractable cycle of putting more sand down and building taller sea walls to keep our property safe.
Due to the drifting of sand and limited natural dunes, the town of South Palm Beach hopes to build structures along the beach to catch the sand as it drifts south. The town of Lantana hopes to be part of this sand capture, as its public beach is often without sand for the public to park their towels on.
The Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa has opted out of the plan to build these structures, as it would have required heavy equipment operating near their hotel guests and would have meant that more of their “private” beach would be required to allow public access since taxpayers are funding the project. For obvious reasons, neither of these things would be desirable for maintaining a five-star rating.
The town of Manalapan is now poised to join that opposition with concerns that trapping the sand to the north could further erode its beaches to the south. There are examples in Broward County that seem to show this to be a possible outcome.
At the same time, residents in Ocean Ridge and Briny Breezes are flabbergasted by an unusually tall duplex being built east of the dune between their towns. And Boca Raton is moving a similar structure in a similar location through the permitting process.
The Coastal Star will be watching and reporting on how this all evolves over the coming months, but the cynic in me suspects lawyers will get rich and sand will continue to come and go until another major hurricane arrives to blow holes in all of our best intentions.
In the meantime, the sea turtles return this time of year seeking places to nest along our dunes, and on Boca Raton’s newly renourished beaches, least terns are scouting nesting locations for the first time in 20 years — small, quiet acts that remind us of nature’s fortitude and reliance on the drifting of sand.
— Mary Kate Leming, Editor