The City of Gulf Shores would like to let residents and visitors know that City administration, staff, and public safety officials are aware of the significant beach erosion issue in the West Beach area. We are working diligently to ensure the delayed beach restoration project begins as soon as possible.
The City was initially scheduled to start the beach restoration project in the fall of 2022 but was postponed due to additional environmental reviews that were unexpectedly required by FEMA’s Environmental Planning and Historical Preservation (EHP) department.
“While we didn’t cause this problem, we aren’t going to sit idly by and watch our beaches wash away. This is not only a possible major economic problem but also a critical public safety issue,” said Mayor Robert Craft. “Our dune system is our first line of defense during storms and provides immense protection for beachfront properties. If the beaches stay like this and we get another storm like Hurricane Sally, we could have significant damage along our coastline.”
Before any restoration work can begin on our beaches, whether it is funded federally or paid out of pocket, the City must:
- Obtain permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Complete a mandated review process with FEMA.
- Receive necessary FEMA approvals.
- Advertise and receive bids on the project.
- Select a contractor.
- Contractor mobilizes and begins work.
FEMA recently notified us that all findings from the EHP reviews were complete. We are now waiting for EHP to submit the finalized paperwork to FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) department. Once PA receives the paperwork, they will acquire all necessary approvals to release the project to the Department of Homeland Security for final authorization and funding to be distributed. Once that occurs, the City can begin the bidding process to secure a contractor.
We understand that our beaches are vital to our quality of life and essential to our economy. The dune system provides critical protection for beachfront properties and a natural habitat for several protected species. While these beach conditions and regulatory delays are entirely out of our control, Mayor Craft has been actively working with our delegation in Washington to urge FEMA to issue the necessary approvals so we can begin this critical work. Additionally, City staff is exploring all possible interim solutions that may help minimize beach erosion issues in the most impacted areas.
“I want to thank Senators Katie Britt and Tommy Tuberville and Congressman Jerry Carl for their swift response to this situation,” said Craft. “Their offices have communicated directly with FEMA to reinforce how important it is that this beach restoration project get through the red tape and be allowed to start.”
We ask that everyone use caution where erosion has occurred and not attempt to traverse areas where beach access is restricted due to severe erosion. We appreciate your patience and cooperation during this time.
Additional information and updates on the beach restoration project will be provided as they become available. If you have any questions about beach restoration, please email email@example.com.