A crucial part of the beach nourishment process today, dune restoration was the primary focus of Florida coastal recovery efforts in past decades.
Current coastal management efforts, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, include dune restoration as needed, dune walkovers and signs to keep people off. According to Paolo Ghio, director of development and environmental services and executive director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, it’s a strategy that appears to be working.
“First of all, the beach is doing terrific. It is strong. It is wide. It is healthy,” Ghio said. “The dunes, especially the primary dune, I can’t remember it being this robust and consistent.”
He maintains that keeping the dunes healthy – for habitat and people –is well worth it. “For one, they (dunes) are our first barrier of defense against a strong storm surge. But, they are a feature. They are what the residents, the community, the tourists look to. It’s an icon, one of the many icons that define Pensacola Beach.”
Photo: SANDRA AVERHART / WUWF PUBLIC MEDIA.