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Jacksonville Beaches Sand Dune Restoration To Begin After Hurricane Matthew

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Blake Allen/WJCT NEWS
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Dune restoration is common among coastal areas, this one at Little Talbot Island.

The Jacksonville City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to allocate $7.5 million to restore sand dunes destroyed by Hurricane Matthew at the Beaches.

Jacksonville Beach in particular is home to “transient dunes.” These are the smaller sand dunes covered with vegetation and walkways that get people from the street to the beach, says Jacksonville University Assistant Professor Jeremy Stalker.

He says these dunes have several important functions.  

“They protect any property that’s behind the sand dune. So they act sort of as sources for sand. If there’ve been storms, sand can be remobilized from the dunes back onto the beach. They actually help protect the beach itself, and they can help protect the areas behind the dunes from things like storm surges or winds,” Stalker said.

Now that there’s been money secured to restore the dunes, the process can begin. Stalker says restoration time varies depending on tools and methods used.

“If you do it right it’s going to take longer because you have to do it in stages. If you think about these dunes they’ve taken hundreds of years to build up. So they’re compacted, there’s layers of sand that have been compacted by wind and by rain, so they’re much more dense than a pile of sand,” he said. “Good restoration can take years because you have to put layer upon layer of sand down, and you have to start trying to re-vegetate it.”

Besides being a protective barrier for coastal communities, the dunes provide home for many plants and animals, he says.

News intern Blake Allen can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, or on Twitter @BAllenMMJ.