As you can see, the normal cycle is for storms to erode the dunes and then for the dunes to rebuild seaward to their previous location or farther in the time between storms. This provides a larger reservoir of sand in the critical coppice dune area and the foredunes that must be eroded before more inland dunes and the town itself can be attacked by the storm surge and storm waves. We have not allowed the dunes to properly repair themselves in the 25 years since Hurricane Allen eroded them back. If we continue with this beach management method, we will have a net loss of critical dunes and our natural dune seawall with each succeeding storm. Instead of losing dune protection which then naturally repairs itself, the main dune line will retreat further with each storm until, finally, there is no natural dune seawall to protect us at all. Instead of “back and forth,” we are creating “back and back.”
There have been complaints from property owners about the high, partially man made, dune ridge along the beach where our beach is unnaturally wide. This has been created partially by stacking up sand and sargassum from beach cleaning and partially from wind-blown sand that could not be caught in the missing critical coppice dunes that should have been trapping the sand on the upper beach. Some of these property owners would like this, now well-vegetated dune ridge to be cut down to restore their view. That is very shortsighted planning as well as being highly illegal. Yes, they are partially man-made, but they are providing good storm protection. Someone has come up with the derogatory term “sand dam” to describe this critical dune ridge. Remember that one of the main reasons for constructing dams is to prevent major floods. The critical dune that some are calling a “sand dam” will serve well indeed to protect the structures landward of it from storm surge flooding and direct wave attack during the next major hurricane to strike Port Aransas. In other communities like Surfside Village near Freeport and Gilchrist on the Bolivar Peninsula, the residents are begging to have sand placed on the upper beach to stop the loss of their homes into the sea. There is no better hurricane protection than multiple wide rows of high and continuous vegetated dunes. Most residents along the coast would be thrilled to have what we are so willing to discard.
It has been argued that we need the wide beach to attract tourists. Cars never park more than one deep along our beaches, so at the minimum there is one car’s width of beach space for all beach goers. Visitors might be happier if they didn’t have to worry about getting stuck because they are driving in the loose sand critical coppice dune area. If we move the cars further down the beach where the sand is hard, cars won’t get stuck as they do now and critical coppice dunes will be able to form in their natural nursery area. The city is currently moving truck loads of sand from the road area on the upper beach and dropping it into the water. According to the city manager, “We are depositing sand at the water’s edge from the road on occasion. Also, we are looking to start biting into what’s left of the seaweed dunes in November, and placing that material back in the water. Rita’s surge took out a lot of our seaweed dunes down