Coastal Preservation, Shoreline Armoring, Legal
August 21 2015

Surfrider Foundation joins lawsuit to stop seawalls in Florida

by Holly Parker

On August 6th, the Surfrider Foundation, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Florida Wildlife Federation filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for authorizing construction of seawalls that destroy endangered sea turtle nesting habitat on Singer Island in South Florida. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s permitting of beach wall projects is harming nesting sea turtles, in violation of federal law. Beaches naturally migrate, but when waves hit a walled beach, the wave energy moves sand away from the shore and ultimately narrows the width of the beach. Seawalls can also block access to suitable nesting habitat. The walls reduce nesting habitat, displace sea turtles to poor nesting habitat, increase the energy needed to nest, decrease nesting activity, decrease nesting habitat quality, and can entrap nesting turtles. The end result is that there's not enough sandy beach to sustain sea turtles or human access and use. In Florida, what's good for sea turtles is generally good for surfers!

“Beaches are dynamic in nature, and when a seawall is constructed along a shoreline undergoing long-term net erosion, such as Singer Island, the shoreline migrates landward toward the structure,” said Todd Remmel, coastal preservation liaison with the Palm Beach County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. “The result is an increase in erosion, a loss of beach and a lack of public access. Beaches are unique coastal environments with ecological, recreational and economic value. As human activities and development in coastal areas continue to increase, the need for preservation of beaches becomes ever more apparent.”

Visit the Florida Regional website to follow the case!