The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has signed an agreement with Martin County, Florida, and USACE’s Jacksonville District, authorizing the use of sand from federal waters as part of a hurricane and storm damage reduction project for Hutchinson Island.
Benefits from the beach nourishment are expected to reduce erosion along Hutchinson Island and restore the beach profile following damages from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
The project, using sand from the seafloor of the federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) managed by BOEM, will renourish a four-mile stretch of shoreline on Hutchinson Island using a sea turtle friendly beach design. The agreement authorizes up to one million cubic yards of sand.
Hutchinson Island is separated from mainland Florida by the Indian River Lagoon on the north, and the Ft. Pierce and St. Lucie Inlets on the south. The project will use sand from within a shoal complex (C1-B) located approximately seven miles offshore southeast Martin County.
Construction will occur within the window from November 1, 2017 to May 1, 2018, to avoid impacts to nesting sea turtles.
“This project would not be possible without the partnership and collaboration with BOEM and Martin County,” said Lacy Pfaff, USACE Jacksonville district project manager.
“The Martin County Shore Protection Project will be one of the first projects utilizing Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act funds to repair damages from Hurricane Matthew. The offshore sand will be placed along the shoreline to replenish up to four miles of public beach in Martin County and bring the beaches up to the design level of protection to safeguard the area from future storms.”
The environmental impacts associated with dredging and placement of OCS sand resources along the Hutchinson Island shoreline are evaluated in several documents prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.
A Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) was prepared in 2011 by the Corps with BOEM as a cooperating agency, and has already been used once for the Martin County Shore Protection Project constructed in 2013.