TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Sunset Beach is known for its breathtaking sunsets, but the public has been missing out on a portion of the beach for nearly a month. A mile of the beach, South of Caddy’s, has been closed while city and county officials work on a beach restoration project.
This Monday, workers will take a significant step towards reopening the beach.
Dune planting begins. This is crucial in restoring the sand dunes.
Category 4 hurricane Idalia washed away Sunset Beach’s 40-year-old dune system in late August.
Since then, city and county officials have been working to restore the beach.
“It was devastated and the water had come up so far and the whole place flooded,” Sunset Beach Resident Phil Wade said. “So they’re making headway.”
Contractors will plant sea oats, railroad vine, dune panicgrass, and beach elder.
The plants will catch sand as the wind blows along the beach and keep the sand in place, compacting the dunes.
The dunes help protect the homes and businesses along the beach by breaking up strong waves.
“We’re appreciative that they’re doing it,” Wade said.
The beach will remain closed during this process.
“If you see trucks on the beach, do not go on the beach,” Pinellas County Environmental Specialist Zach Westfall said. “You could get severely injured.”
They are using heavy equipment on the beach.
Westfall said they expect it to take weeks to plant down the mile stretch of beach. After completion, workers will monitor the plants and water them for 90 days.
City and county officials ask the public not to water the plants and to leave stakes in the ground.
This will all help to keep the restoration project on pace. City officials said they are hoping to reopen the beach by October 30 unless the project takes longer to complete.