Sandbridge getting five miles of new sand for beach and dunes
Up to 2.2 million cubic yards of sea sand, drawn from federally-owned waters, will soon be used to renourish and beautify Sandbridge's beach and dunes.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District; and the city of Virginia Beach recently signed an agreement authorizing the environmental action.
The project uses sand from Sandbridge Shoal, located on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), to refresh approximately five miles of beach. Dredging is expected to begin later this year.
“As a coastal community, Sandbridge is vulnerable to storm events and longer-term erosion; at the same time, its beaches and dunes attract tourists and local businesses that depend upon the local infrastructure,” said Renee Orr, the bureau's chief of strategic resources. “By helping the city to renourish coastal areas, periodically, we are playing an important role in protecting public infrastructure from severe storms.”
In addition to protecting infrastructure from storm damage, the project mitigates erosion that threatens biological, recreational and cultural resources. Rebuilt also beaches provide additional habitat to resident and migratory species, such as, sea birds.
The project uses sand from Sandbridge Shoal, located on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), to refresh approximately five miles of beach. Dredging is expected to begin later in 2019.
"Along with our many partner organizations, like BOEM and the city of Virginia Beach, we are proud to build critical infrastructure that has a tremendous impact at the local, state and national level. This project will reduce the risk of damage from future storms,” said Col. Patrick Kinsman, USACE Norfolk District Commander.
The most recent Sandbridge Beach renourishment was completed in 2013 and the area has withstood impacts from other hurricanes and nor’easters, since then.
“As Virginia’s largest city and a coastal city, the health of our beaches and coastline is so important to our citizens and economy,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Robert Dyer. “Sandbridge is a beautiful part of our city; having this partnership to renourish Sandbridge Beach and its dunes is a huge boost to us in helping maintain its beauty. We have worked closely with BOEM and USACE in the past, and I believe this is one more joint project that will be a huge success for Virginia Beach and its residents.”
To meet its stewardship responsibilities, prior to construction of the Sandbridge project, BOEM and USACE reviewed existing environmental analyses and updated them, where needed. This process included extensive coordination between state and federal partners.
The parties negotiated an agreement that avoids, minimizes and mitigates possible adverse impacts to wildlife, such as, loggerhead turtles, marine mammals, fish and birds; and, it protects the human environment. The bureau's environmental assessment is available on its Marine Minerals Program Virginia project page.
The bureau has the authority to lease sand resources from the ocean shelf for shore protection, and, for beach or wetland restoration projects undertaken by a federal, state or local government. In exercising this authority, it may issue a negotiated, non-competitive lease, or memorandum of agreement, for the use of ocean shelf sand to a qualifying entity.
The bureau has invested more than $40 million, over the past 25 years, identifying non-energy resources on the shelf, conducted world-class scientific research and leased shelf resources to coastal communities and other federal agencies, in need. Information from environmental research and resource identification has informed environmental assessment and leasing decisions concerning the use of shelf sand resources in beach nourishment and coastal restoration.
For more information about the bureau's Marine Minerals Program, visit the website, http://www.boem.gov/Marine-Minerals-Program/. It includes its newly-launched Marine Minerals Information System, an interactive support tool that provides public access to shelf marine mineral data and information, which can be found at: https://mmis.doi.gov/BOEMMMIS/.