[May 21, 2015] – The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced today that Folly Beach County Park is a winner of its 2015 Best Restored Beach Award.
“ASBPA created the Best Restored Beach award as a way of highlighting the value of America’s restored beaches,” said Harry Simmons, mayor of Caswell Beach, N.C., and ASBPA president. “As Americans flock to our coastline during the upcoming beach season, most don’t even realize they may be enjoying a restored beach.”
Folly Beach County Park (FBCP) closed for public access in August 2011, when the park, owned by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC), suffered heavy erosion from Hurricane Irene. The storm forced closure of the property and restricted public access and parking for over 400 cars on the west end of Folly Island. In 2012, CCPRC’s consulting engineers, Coastal Science and Engineering, determined that the construction of a terminal groin would help retain the beach of FBCP over time and a stabilization project took place in 2013.
Permits were approved by the Army Corps of Engineers and the SCDHEC Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management to allow the excavation of approximately 415,000 cubic yards of sand from a shoal in the Folly River. On May 5, 2013, stabilization began with pumping sand, and continued with the construction of a terminal groin at the southernmost end of property. The terminal groin is a 745-foot-long low-profile steel structure designed to trap and hold southerly flowing sand in place, while excess sand flows over and around the groin to rebuild the end of the spit. The project was funded entirely through a CCPRC Capital Projects bond. In addition to reopening this public beach access area that had served thousands since its opening in 1982, the restoration also provided a beach and dune area that will facilitate sea turtle nesting and protect shorebird habitats. FBCP reopened to the public on July 3, 2013.
“The loss of the county park access was a loss to the whole community,” said Best Restored Beach Committee Chair Lee Weishar, Ph.D. “This project gave them back their recreational beach and had an added benefit of adding sea turtle and pelican habitat.”
For more than 50 years, beach restoration has been the preferred method of shore protection in coastal communities on the east, west, Gulf and Great Lakes coasts. Restoration is the process of placing beach-quality sand on dwindling beaches to reverse or offset the effects of erosion. The three main reasons for restoration are:
• Storm protection – A wide sandy beach helps separate storm waves from upland structures and infrastructure.
• Habitat restoration – Numerous species rely on wide, healthy beaches as a place to live, feed and nest.
• Recreation – America’s beaches have twice as many visitors annually as all of America’s federal and state parks combined (over 2 billion).
Coastal communities have restored more than 370 beaches in the U.S., including such iconic beaches as Jones Beach, NY; Ocean City, MD; Virginia Beach; Miami Beach; South Padre Island, TX; Venice Beach, CA; and Waikiki Beach, HI. During times of economic hardship, the beach can be a more desirable vacation destination than other domestic and foreign alternatives, offering an accessible and affordable getaway. It is also an employment and tax generator. Beaches contribute an estimated $225 billion annually to the America’s economy. For every dollar spent on beach restoration, governments take in $570 in taxes annually from tourists. And over half of the nation’s gross domestic product is generated in 673 counties along the oceans and Great Lakes (source: NOAA).
To enter the Best Restored Beach competition, coastal communities nominated their projects for consideration, and an independent panel of coastal managers and scientists selected the winners. Judging was based on: the economic and ecological benefits the beach brings to its community; the short- and long-term success of the restoration project; and the challenges each community overcame during the course of the project. For a full list of award-winning beaches, visit www.asbpa.org.