Dauphin Island wins national beach restoration award - FOX10 News | WALA

Dauphin Island wins national beach restoration award

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Patti Powell, director of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ state lands division, speaks to a FOX10 News after Tuesday’s press conference on Dauphin Island. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Dauphin Island) Patti Powell, director of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ state lands division, speaks to a FOX10 News after Tuesday’s press conference on Dauphin Island. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Dauphin Island)
Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier, speaks at a press conference Tuesday at which he announced that the island has won a national award for the restoration of the town’s East End Beach. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Dauphin Island) Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier, speaks at a press conference Tuesday at which he announced that the island has won a national award for the restoration of the town’s East End Beach. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Dauphin Island)
DAUPHIN ISLAND, AL (WALA) -

A state conservation official Tuesday praised Dauphin Island elected leaders’ “visionary thinking” as the town’s mayor announced the receipt of a national beach restoration award.

Mayor Jeff Collier said at a news conference that Dauphin Island is one of only five communities across the nation to receive the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association’s 2017 “Best Restored Beaches” award.

Patti Powell, director of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ state lands division, said it was “an honor and a privilege” for her department to have assisted Dauphin Island in funding the restoration of the environmentally sensitive East End Beach.

“It was a lot of hard work with a lot of challenges,” Powell told reporters and dignitaries. “But the mayor had a vision and he and the Town Council saw it through. This award gives us an opportunity to remind people of the critical importance of barrier islands and that Dauphin Island is Alabama’s only barrier island.”

Completed a year ago, the $7 million East End Beach project restored nearly a mile of highly eroding beach, from Fort Gaines westward to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, by nourishing it with 320,000 cubic yards of beach-quality sand. It is the first beach nourishment project in Dauphin Island’s history.

In addition to providing a larger public beach for residents and tourists, the project will help protect Dauphin Island’s critical habitat for migratory birds and nesting sea turtles, according to the mayor.

“This is not only good for us humans; it’s also benefitting our environment,” Collier said. “And eco-tourism is our bread and butter. Anything we do to enhance the environment also enhances our economy.”

He said the wider and more stable beach also will provide greater protection for coastal wetlands and marshes, where shrimp and other seafood spawn, and for oyster beds in the Mississippi Sound.

“This project isn’t just about Dauphin Island,” he said. “It’s about the role we play as a protective barrier island.”

The contractor on the East End Beach project was Weeks Marine Inc., one of the nation’s largest dredging companies with extensive experience in beach restoration. South Coast Engineers, based in Fairhope, provided consulting services and project oversight.

Engineer Beau Buhring said his firm’s greatest challenge was obtaining the variety of state and federal permits required by such a project.

“The permitting was very intensive,” Buhring said. “In particular, we had to be careful to avoid shipwrecks and other historical sites, which we were able to do.”

Other speakers Tuesday included Andrew Haffenden of Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries and Sara Johnson of Share the Beach-Dauphin Island.

Additional winners of the 2017 “Best Restored Beaches” award include Phipps Ocean Park in Palm Beach, Florida.; Popponesset Spit, Massachusetts ; Prime Hook Beach, Delaware.; and Sandbridge Beach, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

All content © 2017, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.

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