As part of keeping our beaches the way they are, large and wide, the Tourist Development Council is making an investment that will help sustain the millions in beach renourishment spent in years past and help beautify our white sand. A huge aid in keeping the sand in place is vegetation and Lisa Armbruster with the Beach Renourishment efforts has a plan to plant our beach with fresh vegetation, and she’s starting this fall.
Q. How much of the beach will receive new vegetation?
A. Nearly all of the beach from Pinnacle Port to St. Andrews State Park (but not including the park) has vegetation proposed. Areas that do not have vegetation proposed are those areas undergoing apparent redevelopment, although if those property owners wish to have vegetation installed, they will be included.
Q. Approximately how many plants will be planted?
A. Approximately 1.5-1.7 million plants.
Q. Will there be plants other than sea oats planted?
A. The bid documents define that 70% of the vegetation will be sea oats, and 15% will be dune panic grass; the other three species suggested are beach elder (5%), sea purslane (5%), and beach morning glory (5%) – although, notably, the bid documents offer that the bidder may propose a substitute for one of the three smaller quantity plants.
Q. What is the expected cost of the entire project?
A. The cost estimate (and I stress estimate) is $1.5 to 2.0 million.
Q. Where will the funds for the project be appropriated from?
A. The funding will come from the Third Cent bed tax (dedicated beach nourishment fund). We also have a state match already secured in a grant, so approximately 28.5% will be paid by the state.
Q. What is the objective, meaning, are there areas that have historical erosion points that this will prevent or reduce the erosion?
A. The planting project will enhance the existing dune system, and in some areas, lack of existing dune system, and over time should help build up dunes along the landward portions of the Panama City Beach beaches; this serves as additional protection from storms to upland structures and infrastructure and complements the beach nourishment activities completed for the beaches.
Q. When will bids go out for the project?
A. End of July or early August.
Q. Who is expecting to bid, meaning, landscape architects? contractors?
A. The bidders should be capable of handling the work/size of the project.
Q. When is actual work expected to begin?
A. Until we get the bids in, including their proposed schedules, we can’t say for sure. It is expected to start by winter of this year and be complete by early spring.
Q. How long will the work take place?
A. Again, until we see proposed schedules, we don’t know. At this point, the bid documents give the bidder 165 days to complete the work from the time the contract is awarded. A portion of this time will likely be devoted to growing the plants, so folks wouldn’t see work being done on the beach, although the project would be moving forward.
Q. Will there be anything in place to keep beach goers off the new plants?
A. The project includes post and rope fencing along the seaward edge of the planting for the entire length of the project, and includes perpendicular post and rope fencing through the approximately 100 public accesses on the beach. Also, signs will be placed within the planting areas indicating that folks should keep out of the vegetation. This post and rope fencing also speaks a little to your question below regarding aesthetics.
Q. Will the plants be planted in a pattern to help be aesthetically pleasing?
A. The planting pattern has been designed by our coastal engineering firm, Coastal Planning & Engineering, based on the existing topography of the beach; the planting should blend in nicely with the existing beach and vegetation.