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Pinellas beaches at risk of shrinking as renourishment project is delayed

Posted at 11:11 AM, Nov 05, 2021

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A project to renourish nine miles of Pinellas County’s beachfront is being pushed back.

Nathan Hallsten and his family live near Indian Rocks Beach, so they visit as often as possible.

“The sand’s really nice and it’s always clean and the sunrises and sunsets are always good,” Hallsten said.

The beautiful white sandy beaches we all enjoy, are in jeopardy of shrinking.

A $45-million project to widen the 9-mile stretch of sand, between Clearwater and Redington Beach was supposed to take place in 2024. This renourishment project happens every six years.

“It’s much further behind in the process. So, it would be very difficult to meet those deadlines,” said Dr. John Bishop, Pinellas County Coastal Management Coordinator.

That’s because only 48% of beachfront property owners have signed easements. The Army Corp of Engineers needs 238 more signatures in order to move forward with the project.

County leaders said the delay in the restoration project means less sand and less protection for the next big storm.

“The next storm will take even more and slowly it will erode the beach back, probably to its original position at some point,” said Bishop.

Many property owners worry signing the easement will give federal leaders too much leniency to build in the future, allow public access to private areas and because the agreement says it’s “in perpetuity”— which essentially means forever.

“This project has created an aesthetically beautiful beach that the people that live on the beach have benefited from for a long time. I think that they need to decide whether it’s worth giving all that up,” said Bishop.