By Jackson Gianchetta
As Ponte Vedra High School students trek out to the area’s many local beaches, they may notice something different along the coastline this fall. Following the tumultuous North Florida hurricane season, St. Johns County has embarked on a series of dune restoration projects to mend the ravages of storms and safeguard local beaches.
The county’s Ponte Vedra Beach Restoration Project, slated to begin in late October, aims to rejuvenate a staggering 8.9 miles of coastline spanning from the Duval County line to the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Reserve.
At its core, this project seeks to reverse both the damage inflicted by storms and the natural erosion of ocean walls that has plagued our coastline. The restoration effort will involve returning an estimated two million cubic yards of sand to these shores, which the county says will be dredged from an offshore borrow site in federal waters.
While the benefits of beach restoration are clear, the project will come at a substantial cost. The St. Johns County Disaster Recovery Department estimates that the endeavor will take approximately six months to complete and require over 40 million dollars in funding, largely provided through state disaster relief programs.
While construction along the coast may cause mild interruptions such as blocked entrance ramps and temporary beach closures, many around the community appear excited about the news. One PVHS senior, Emily Evans expressed her enthusiasm about the project, stating, “It’s great to see the county place such an emphasis on the preservation of beaches. I’ve been going to places like Mickler’s [Beach] my entire life and I find it reassuring that these places are being maintained for future generations.”
The county states that beach rejuvenation is expected to be conducted every twelve years. In late 2021, revitalization efforts concluded on a portion of coastline spanning from Vilano Beach up to Guana River Road. In 2024 the county aims to further solidify the coastline, with a project slated to begin that seeks to import sand along Crescent Beach, located south of St. Augustine.
As these restoration efforts gear up to begin in the coming weeks, be on the lookout for further information on the specific areas impacted by closures.