Protect the Natural Dune Seawall and Prevent Hurricane Destruction at Port Aransas, Texas
October, 2005 Richard L. Watson, Ph.D. Consulting Geologist 361-749-4152 TexasCoastGeology.com Richard@TexasCoastGeology.com
We have just witnessed the incredible destructive power of two major hurricanes, Katrina and Rita on the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Whole towns have been wiped from the face of the earth at Holly Beach, Cameron, Waveland, Gulfport, and other locations.
Our natural dune seawall is our only protection from total destruction in a major hurricane. Port Aransas beaches and dunes undergo a cycle of erosion during major storms and rebuilding in the calm between storms. We have broken that cycle in Port Aransas by not allowing the critical coppice dunes to rebuild seaward and extend the foredunes since Hurricane Allen eroded them 25 years ago. The problem is being made worse now that upper beach sand, deposited both naturally and by city equipment, is being transported to the water for it to wash away and be lost to our natural dune seawall forever. Heavy equipment operated by the City of Port Aransas is illegally destroying critical coppice dunes and their nursery area on the upper beach. This is extremely short sighted because most other Texas coastal communities are spending millions to place sand on their upper beaches, the very place where we are removing it. As Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita have shown, coastal towns with no man-made seawall or natural dune seawall get totally destroyed in such storms.
Beach management that reduces the ability of our natural dune seawall to build out and up to the maximum possible is a great mistake when we realize that sometime we will have our Katrina, or Rita, or Celia, or Carla, or 1919 storm. It is coming, the only question is when. Let’s allow natural beach processes build our critical coppice dunes so that they join onto the foredune ridge and extend it and improve our natural dune seawall protection the way nature intended. We can ignore powerful natural systems for a while, but in the end man always loses.
We are spending a fortune to unsuccessfully maintain a driving lane in the nursery where critical dunes form and weakening the future of our natural dune seawall at the same time. There is a better way!
Preventing the natural dune seawall from being rebuilt after storms, removing sand from the critical coppice dune area and the upper beach reduces the sand reservoir available to protect us when we get hit by a strong hurricane. We were able to stop damage to the dunes by dune buggies 35 years ago. Can we prevent damage being done by government now?