FEMA Public Assistance for Singer Island Dune Restoration
Final notice of FEMA’s intent to provide funding for Singer Island Dune Restoration to repair damages by Hurricane Dorian. ​​​

Palm Beach County Beaches are THE BEST!

Our 47-miles of coastline are stunning - white sandy beaches adjacent to warm, blue-green ocean water brought from our close proximity to the Gulfstream Current. Not just a place to relax or play, our beaches are also home to plants and animals and provide us with protection from an unsettled sea.

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Picture of a healthy beach/dune ecosystem

Beaches Are Always Changing

Ocean waves and currents naturally move sand north to south making our beaches dynamic like rivers of sand, ebbing and flowing.  Development along the coast compounds the situation to where Palm Beach County has 33.6 miles of critically eroded beaches subject to constant wind, waves, tides and seasonal Atlantic hurricanes & tropical storms.     

Picture of shoreline erosion after an Atlantic Ocean storm event


 How Can We Stop Beach Erosion?

   There is no one-size-fits-all answer to stop beach erosion.
Palm Beach County uses a  four-sided approach to combat beach erosion: dune restoration, inlet sand transfer, sand renourishment, and installation of support structures.  ERM oversees the continued management of public beaches and 2 inlets by implementing funding and/or managing projects that replace beach and dune habitat for people and nesting sea turtles. 

Beach Renourishment Construction 


Inlets Designed To Combat Erosion

Inlets connect us to the Atlantic Ocean and are important for commerce and transportation.  Unfortunately, they also interrupt the natural flow of sand.  The north side piles up with sand while the south side becomes "sand starved".  In addition, waves and tides push sand into the inlet creating shoals. ERM oversees the management of South Lake Worth/Boynton Inlet  (SLWI) pictured and partners with the US Army Corps of Engineers to manage Lake Worth/Palm Beach Inlet (LWI).  Both inlets use techniques to restore the natural flow of sand:  a trap inside the inlet to capture incoming sand so that it can disbursed to beaches south and a pump station to transfer sand from the north side of the inlet to beaches south. The county's Roads and Bridges Department operates both plants which move 70,000 cubic yards (SLWI) and 100,000 cubic yards (LWI) of material every year.

  Picture of South Lake Worth (Boynton) Inlet


Dunes Hold It All Together 

 It is easy to understand how the lower beach (below the hide tide line) is especially prone to erosion from waves, however, areas above the high tide line known as the dune also suffer from disturbance by wind and invasive plants.  Not only is the dune area important habitat to nesting sea turtles, it is also a vital source of replacement sand for the lower beach.  Dunes have special salt-tolerant vegetation like railroad vine and sea oats pictured below.  These plants can tolerate wind, salt, and lack of freshwater while at the same time collect and hold sand, like a reservoir for future sand needs.
To date, ERM has overseen the enhancement of 100 acres of dunes.

Picture of a healthy dune/beach habitat with dune vegetation 


​Beach Sand Renourishment

   Much of our coastal areas have been developed resulting in a loss of dune habitat.  Without the dune "reservoir of sand" to help the lower eroded beach restore itself, sand has to be obtained from elsewhere - enter renourishment.   ERM oversees the continued renourishment of Jupiter Beach, Carlin Park, Juno Beach, and Ocean Ridge; all of which have a history of long-term erosion resulting in significant loss of beach frontage. Renourishment projects use heavy equipment to move large amounts of sand obtained from another area and contoured into a natural beach profile. 

Where does the sand come from?

  • Sand is obtained from inland mines and trucked to the beach OR dredged from offshore deposits and pumped onto the beach.
  • All sand must be "beach compatible" and pass various geotechnical tests.
  • Coastal geologists/engineers plan, design, apply for state and federal permits, and monitor construction which may take four to seven years to complete.

​What about nesting sea turtles?

  • Beach nourishment projects in Palm Beach County are only permitted from November 1 through May 1.
  • Construction after March 1 requires special monitoring measures including night monitoring and early morning nesting surveys in order to avoid impacts to nesting sea turtles.
  • All construction on the beach must be completed by May 1.

​Who pays for beach renourishment?

Funding is derived from several sources:

  • "Bed taxes” fees paid through hotel stays issued by the Tourist Development Council.
  • State appropriations issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
  • Federal appropriations issued by Congress.
  • Emergency appropriations issued by FEMA after storm events. 

What's that brown vegetation on the beach?  

Called the coastal wrack or just wrack, it is sea grass, seaweed, reeds, driftwood, tree and plant seeds brought onshore by the tide. It offers refuge to shorebirds and crustaceans that live in the hot brutal area of crashing waves and whipping winds becoming a place to hunker down and look for hidden decomposing marine life to snack on.  As incoming tides push the wrack up into the higher beach/dune area, it provides a mat of nutrient rich organic material for dune plants to take root.


"In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth."

Rachel Carson


Engineering Support Structures

  The last approach ERM uses to combat erosion when traditional renourishment projects are not viable or where there is an erosional "hot spot" is the installation of a structure engineered to keep the beach sand stable. This typically includes the construction of groins or breakwaters made from rocks like granite picture below or limestone. The nooks and crevices of the rocks used to build the structures also provide valuable habitat.

Granite Boulders Used to Stablize Beach from Erosion at Ocean Inlet Beach in Ocean Ridge 

What Else Can Be Done To Help Our Beaches & Dunes?

Preserve native dune plants • Remove invasive nonnative vegetation • Refrain from pruning native dune plants. (SEE INFO BELOW ON SEA GRAPES) • Limit beach raking - KEEP THE WRACK • Limit fertilizer and irrigation use around dune areas • Keep recreational activity away from dune areas (beach chairs, surfboards, volleyball nets) • Use dune walkovers


Sea Grapes - A Sea Turtle Hatchling's Best Friend



Close up Picture of a Sea Grape Tree Fruiting 

  • Native South Florida plant that grow along the coast
  • Adapted to live in the harsh beach/dune environmental - salt & drought tolerant
  • Large leaves catch wind driven sand stabilizing the dune
  • Animals living along the beach get shelter from the large canopy, food from fruits, and nectar from flowers
  • Act as a natural barrier to block out artificial light that can distract and disorient nesting sea turtles and hatchlings

Know the rules before you trim or cut