Jamaica Beach Rebuilding Dunes

Jamaica Beach is benefiting from a new source of funding for rebuilding natural dunes along the shoreline. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports the latest project with rebuild 3,000 feet of dunes along the beach.

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The dunes will form a natural seawall along Jamaica Beach which has been slowly eroding over the years. The $885,000 project is being paid for by the city of Jamaica Beach and the Texas General Land Office. Commissioner Jerry Patterson says it's a good investment.

"Protects the infrastructure, protects the tax base, maintains the beach where additional revenues are made by sales tax revenues or hotel-motel tax revenues so it makes economic and also makes good sense as far as protecting what's there from the next storm."

Patterson says rebuilding dunes is a better economic decision, because letting erosion happen, unchecked, costs money too.

"So it's better to spend the money now then spend it later and of course if we get into a situation where a privately owned structure are now on the beach that's public beach and we have to sometimes litigate to get them off so if you just put a pencil to it and run the numbers this is a cost effective option."

Patterson says the Jamaica Beach project is one of many that are needed. The Land Office says $36 million worth of projects are waiting for funding.Patterson says traditional funding for beach erosion projects was cut at the federal level, but a new source of funding opened up for Texas.

"The energy bill that President Bush signed back in August included for Texas $16 million a year for a coastal impact assistance program and that money comes out of offshore oil and gas royalties."

Patterson says the state of Texas needs to do a better job of drawing down federal funds. Texas has 367 miles of beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. The land office says Texas has one of the fastest rates of coastal erosion in the nation. Some areas lose five to ten feet of beach a year. The Land Office reports in the history of federal funding for beach erosion, Texas has received one percent while Florida has received 32 percent and New Jersey has received 27 percent. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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