The coastal area next to G Street in Cedar Key has changed a lot since the 1970s. A 2008 study funded by the FL Department of Environmental Protection found that the construction of G and 1st streets in the late 1960s and 1970s accelerated erosion and resulted in the loss of the beach from this area. Erosion along this short stretch of coast has proceeded rapidly. Now, high tides often reach the sidewalk and further erosion may threaten the integrity of the road and utility pipes buried underneath. So, what can be done to address this situation?
A Community Discussion
There are many options available to address coastal erosion, each with benefits and drawbacks. These options include beach renourishment (importing sand to the area to restore the beach), shoreline armoring (adding large rocks or seawalls to deflect wave energy), or living shorelines (enhancing natural habitat along the shoreline to dampen wave energy and accumulate sediment). Several people own property along G Street and Cedar Key visitors and residents enjoy sweeping sunset views, shore fishing, and paddling along this area. Therefore, it is important to engage as many people as possible in the conversation about next steps for an erosion control project. Hence, we at NCBS put together a team to host an initial workshop for homeowners along G Street and other interested residents. The team consisted of me (Savanna Barry), Dr. Mark Clark of the UF Soil and Water Science Department, and Sue Colson of the Cedar Key City Commission. The purpose of the workshop was increase understanding about the options available and begin a community dialogue about how to proceed.
The meeting began with an overview of living shorelines and a history of G Street’s erosion – the talk covered the costs and benefits of living shorelines and other options for erosion control. Secondly, Dr. Clark presented on a local living shoreline case study at Joe Raines Beach (see this post for more), where the area in front a failing seawall is being planted with marsh grass and seeded with oyster shell to halt and reverse erosion. After the two presentations, the floor was opened up for discussion of several initial questions, including “do we need/want some type of erosion control project here?”, “if yes, what elements would we want to avoid?”, and “what perspectives are missing from this conversation?”.
The community members present voted 7 to 1 (with 2 abstaining) to continue further talks about pursuing some kind of project. No decisions were made regarding the type of project because the goal of the meeting was to gain consensus about whether or not to initiate a project. Attendees largely agreed that recreational access to the site for kayak launch and angling should be maintained. Several mentioned that elements such as pilings and large sand bags would not be desirable but perhaps could be accepted if they were only temporary. Another attendee brought up concerns over the failure of an erosion control project off of Atsena Otie, expressing doubts as to whether humans should interfere with natural erosional processes. There were also a few property owners not present and the group acknowledged the need to recruit more stakeholders to future meetings.
With direction from the initial workshop, Dr. Mark Clark took the lead on a cooperative grant with the Suwannee River Water Management District to gain funding for the community planning process and applied research about living shorelines techniques. The grant application is currently pending with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Management Program. In the mean time, the community discussion will continue with a series of group and individual meetings – expanding the number of stakeholders engaged in the conversation and refining the vision for the project. Additional experts will be brought in as needed to answer questions and assist Cedar Key residents arrive on a decision together. Check back for continued updates about the process!
Links and Resources
Initial workshop flyer: http://cedarkeynews.com/index.php/city-news/2476-living-shorelines-19-sept-2016
Climate Resilience Toolkit – Coastal Erosion: https://toolkit.climate.gov/topics/coastal-flood-risk/coastal-erosion
Types of living shorelines: http://floridalivingshorelines.com/types-of-living-shorelines/
NOAA information on shoreline armoring: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/shoreline-armoring.html
NOAA information on living shorelines: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/living-shoreline.html
Florida Living Shorelines: http://floridalivingshorelines.com/
NOAA natural habitats increase coastal resilience: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/20150429-noaa-study-finds-marshes-reefs-beaches-can-enhance-coastal-resilience.html