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Santa Rosa Asks State For Navarre Beach Money

Bob Barrett

Santa Rosa County is asking the state for $8 million for a major renourishment project on Navarre Beach. Roger Blaylock, a Santa Rosa County Engineer and Navarre Beach Director says there have been signs of erosion on the beach and the county has requested funds from the state to rebuild the entire beach.

The last time Navarre Beach had a full renourishment done was in 2006, after hurricanes Ivan and Dennis left the beach with major damage. There was another, smaller renourishment project done in 2010 after damage from some smaller storms where sand was trucked onto the beach, but that repair has not taken and that material has been washed away. Blaylock says the 14 foot high permanent vegetated dunes are still about 98% intact, but there has been erosion at the edges and the county wants to get ahead of the problem before the dunes are threatened even further. Blaylock says there have been signs of erosion up and down the beach, so the county has gone to the state legislature to ask for money for the proposed project.

This is the second year in a row they have made the request. Last year, Navarre Beach was next in line for funding when the state ran out of money earmarked for beach renourishment. County Board Chairman Don Salter says this year they are asking the state to increase the amount of money devoted to beach projects from $30 million to $45 million. Salter says Santa Rosa County would ask for about $8 million of those dollars for the Navarre Beach project. He says the economic impact of Navarre Beach is as important as any other industry in the county, supporting a lot of small businesses and bringing in a lot of bed tax money.

Santa Rosa County authorized their consultants to apply for permits for the project almost two years ago and have been waiting for the state to commit funds for the project. The $8 million from the state would be 50% of the money for the project, the rest of which would be the responsibility of the county. Once the money is appropriated, County Engineer Roger Blaylock says the county can begin the process of rebuilding the beach, in which a "hopper dredge moves offshore in 70 to 80 foot depth of water". They lift sand, what Blaylock called "compatible material," and fill a large hopper which is brought on shore. The sand is then pumped onto the beach in liquid form and shaped by front end loaders and bulldozers into the final shape. It takes thousands of loads and about 1.3 million cubic yards of sand to complete the project.

With most of the preliminary work done the project's future depends on funding from the state. Commissioner Don Salter says it will be a few months before the county knows whether or not it will be granted the funds. Salter does say that since they were next in line last year, chances look good that the Navarre Beach project will get the green light late this year.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.