DELRAY BEACH –The Florida Department of Environmental Protection joined key stakeholders Thursday in Delray Beach to celebrate the finalization a first-of-its-kind agreement to jointly manage a 15-mile stretch of beach, laying the foundation for regional beach management.
The year-long process led to an agreement by the Department and local governments for a stretch of beach from the Lake Worth Inlet to the South Lake Worth/Boynton Inlet in Palm Beach County, eliminating repeat permit processing and reducing local sponsor costs, time delays and permitting uncertainty. This joint process yields many environmental benefits and removes procedural barriers in the permitting process to the Department and local governments without a change to standards or lessening of environmental protections.
“Stakeholders have invested heavily in time and effort in the development of this landmark agreement and we are very thankful to the commitment to this regional approach to planning and construction,” said Mark Thomasson, Director of DEP’s Division of Water Resource Management. “This approach will result in more effective restoration, as it will allow us to look beyond political boundaries and focus on areas where restoration will have the greatest environmental benefit and the best chance of long-term success.”
In 2012, the Department initiated the Beach Management Agreement pilot program, which was designed to initiate a regional approach to permitting beach nourishment and inlet management. The primary goal was to establish mutually agreeable methods among the participants such as the Department, local municipalities, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other stakeholders to address coastal erosion, natural community protection and monitoring protocols to facilitate a regional management approach for the Palm Beach County’s coastline.
“We are thrilled to be a partner with the state and our neighboring municipalities,” said Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio. “The BMA offers an improved, effective and collaborative approach to managing a healthy shoreline, emphasizing the balance of storm protection and the environment.”
By identifying the projects that will work in concert with one another regionally, and agreeing to critical details of resource protection and monitoring requirements ahead of time, local governments are not only better able to plan budget needs but are also able to reduce costs, permitting time and ensure that projects result the greatest net benefit.
“Sand has no boundaries, and by working together, it’s a more cost-effective way to restore our beaches, which are critical to the quality of life in our county,” said Palm Beach County Mayor Steven L. Abrams. “State permits will be issued to us as a region instead of separately to counties or cities on a project-by-project basis,” he added.
Focusing on inlet design and effective inlet management will reduce the need for offshore supplies of beach-compatible sand. This will both lower the overall cost of maintaining healthy beaches and extend the life of rapidly diminishing supplies of offshore sources of beach-compatible sand. Addressing erosion issues on a regional basis may also reduce the need for coastal armoring, such as seawalls.
Thomasson joined Coniglio, Abrams and Chuck Collins, Regional Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, at the ceremonial signing ceremony Thursday to commemorate the accomplishment.
Stakeholders engaged in the development of this agreement include: the Department, the Town of Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, the Towns of South Palm Beach, Manalapan, and Lantana, the City of Lake Worth, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Inland Navigation District, the Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association, as well as coastal groups Surfrider, Reef Rescue and the Sea Turtle Conservancy.