THE COASTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL (CAC)
Coastal Advisory Council Meeting
December 15, 2014 10:00 A.M.
Lee County Community Development Public Works Center
1500 Monroe Street
Conference Room 3C
Ft. Myers, Florida 33901
The Coastal Advisory Council was created through resolution by the Board of County Commissioners in 1995. The Council’s charge is to advise the Board of County Commissioners, staff and the various related advisory boards when proceeding with a project affecting beach and shore line preservation regarding the proper methods in helping to conserve the Beaches of Lee County.
The Advisory Council consists of 9 regular members and 9 alternate members. Members serve a four-year term. The Council meets every other month, usually on the 4th Monday. The Lee County Staff Contact for the Council is Roland Ottolini, Natural Resources Division Director.
Erosion... relentless, merciless, inevitable
One third of all the beaches in Lee County are classified as critically eroded.
Erosion of our beaches is a natural, continuous process that poses substantial threat to our coastal development, infrastructure and economy.
Our best option for dealing with this problem is to take action to restore and maintain our beaches. The quality of life we enjoy in Lee County, the economic engine of tourism, and the natural habitats for our wild creatures, depend on the health and sustainability of our beaches and coastal systems.
Our beaches deserve more than a "band-aid" approach to their health. We need to plan, manage, and endorse restoration and enhancement of one of our most important county assets.
Hurricane Protection... a wide beach can reduce hurricane damage by 50%.
Wide, healthy beaches cause breaking waves associated with storm surges to expend their energy further away from the upland shoreline. Waves, carried closer to shore by storm surges, are one of the primary causes of damage to coastal strucures. High, wide sandy beaches are the most cost effective form of protection from tropical storms and hurricanes.
Coastal communities with restored beaches have demonstrated substantially reduced impacts from tropical storms and hurricanes when compared to communities with poorly maintained or non-existent beaches. In many cases, the restored beaches, sustaining the brunt of the storms impact, have recovered in sufficient quantity to help with the recovery of the local tourist economy.
For coastal communities with poorly maintained beaches, the damage from tropical storms and hurricanes can reach into the billions. In Panama City, where their beaches needed restoration badly, over 1.35 billion dollars in damage was sustained as a result of Hurricane Opal. It has been reported that as much as 70% of the damage could have been averted by proper beach restoration.
Economic Impact... healthy beaches equal a healthy economy
The Gulf Beaches are Lee County's most attractive feature and are considered to be its number one economic asset.
In 1996, visitors to Lee County spent $820 million, funded 27,000 jobs and left behind $99 million in state and local taxes. Without healthy beaches the vast majority of these tourists would not visit Lee County, which means our economy could take a sharp downturn.
Without these tourists, taxes could increase and unemployment could rise dramatically.
Lee County works to attract new business and industry to our community. The coastal location and 50 miles of white sand beaches are an extremely important asset in promoting our area as a site for business relocation. New business helps to diversify our economy and protect the community's future economic viability.
Habitat... healthy beaches attract wildlife
Beaches in Lee County are considered to be the area's number one natural resource. They are home to thousands of animals which depend on healthy, sandy beaches and dunes. With over 33% of our beaches in a critically eroded condition, these habitats, and the animals that need them, suffer.
Beaches provide habitat for sea turtles, shore and wading birds, mollusks and other creatures, many rare, threatened or endangered. The continuing loss of beaches increases competition for remaining resources, reduces overall populations, and forces relocation outside of Lee County.
Before Jupiter Island's beaches were renourished, they were so badly eroded that there was very little beach for sea turtles to nest. In 1969, Jupiter averaged only 77 nests per mile. After renourishment, nesting has steadily increased to a current 722 nests per mile.
Only one year after renourishment at Boca Raton, both the variety and number of offshore marine species more than doubled.
Recreation... better beaches mean more fun
The quality of our beaches is a reflection of the quality of life in Lee County.
Beaches are the lifeblood of recreational activities in Lee County. Whether you are a fisherman, boater, sailor, swimmer, snorkeler, diver, sheller or sunbather, you benefit from healthy beaches.
And, likewise, when our beaches become unhealthy or disappear, we will pay the consequences of fewer enjoyable recreational activities. Nobody wants to go fishing and catch no fish, or go shelling and find no shells.
Beaches are important infrastructure for recreation, which deserve the same care and attention as our roadways, parks, jails and other public works.
Management... preservation restoration, renourishment
Education is the first step.
The goal of the Coastal Advisory Council is to effectively and wisely advise our county commisioners about managing our beaches and coastal systems.
To make this happen, we need your help, your attention to the problem, and your willingness to help us assess the cost and benefits of various approches to beach management.
Beaches affect our everyday lives. Healthy beaches fuel our tourist economy, which, in turn, benefits not only our livelihood, but our quality of life.
Not having beaches is not only a loss to all of us, but a loss to our children, and our children's children.