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Pinellas County is working on an emergency beach restoration project

eroded beach
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
Beach erosion from Hurricane Idalia is shown on Indian Shores.

Pinellas County wants to shore up beaches that were heavily eroded by Hurricane Idalia. But county officials say this is not intended to replace the stalled beach renourishment project.

The county is in the process of developing an emergency plan to protect shorelines that were most impacted by the hurricane. This could include reconstructing dunes or temporarily moving sand to areas that were washed away in the storm.

Pinellas spokesman Tony Fabrizio said they're going to focus on the hardest-hit areas, including Sunset Beach and Treasure Island.

READ MORE: A USF professor's photos show Idalia's devastating effects on Pinellas beaches

"Those measures could include temporary erosion control structures and dunes," he said. "And the county is cautioning property owners and residents to not do their own work or hire a contractor. Some of these contractors have actually gone out and solicited work. Because this really requires in many cases federal, state and/or local permitting."

He said this is not intended to replace the proposed beach renourishment project, which is on hold as federal environmental regulators are requiring every beachfront land owner to sign a property easement.

"This is something completely different," Fabrizio said. "This is implementing emergency control measures. And the permitting is much quicker, it's just really dotting the I's and crossing the T's and finding out what we're able to do. But the county does have a plan to get out and see what we can do to at least get us through this hurricane season."

He said the county is using its emergency procurement process to fast-track the work. They're looking to start the project in the next couple of weeks.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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