This fall, County Coastal Division Director Jessica Fentress said Volusia will be "going hard" on sand placement easements across its 47 miles of coastline.
In March, Volusia County accepted a $37.6 million grant with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for sand placement and dune nourishment projects. As a result of a partnership with the Florida Inland Navigation District, the county is slated to receive over 1 million cubic yards of sand in 2024 from two dredging projects: 550,000 cubic yards from Rattlesnake Island, near Ponce Inlet, and 700,000 cubic yards from an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintenance dredging project of the federal inlet channel and the Intracoastal Waterway.
"If you want sand from either the Rattlesnake project or the Army Corps of Engineers dredging project, we need an easement from you," Fentress said.
In the last 10 months following the 2022 hurricane season that cost Volusia $30.6 million in damage, the county has reopened 71 of its 141 walkovers — 107 walkovers are currently open — and installed four miles of TrapBags, sand-filled bags temporarily placed on the coastline to fortify it. Of its 17 coastal parks, 16 are open.
"We have come a long way after Hurricane Nicole and Hurricane Ian, which probably caused the most significant beach erosion that we've experienced in 80 years," Fentress said.
Councilman Troy Kent said he was pleased to see the number of walkovers and coastal parks that have been reopened. He hoped the county would reach out to the city of Ormond Beach regarding Andy Romano Beachfront Park, which while open, its stairs to the beach have not been replaced.
"You said stairs are an easy fix for our guys and girls," said Kent, referencing county staff. "Let's let Ormond know stairs are an easy fix."
Fentress said she has spoken with city officials from Ormond and other municipalities. The county is able to reopen facilities faster because it has tradesworkers on staff.
Seawall recovery efforts are going well, but are ongoing, she added. There are a lot of coastal properties in the middle of seawall repairs, a fact that made the county nervous as Hurricane Idalia approached.
"If you're smack dab in the middle of a repair and you have half a seawall, you are vulnerable," Fentress said.
Property owners who provided the county with easements for TrapBags do not need to provide the county with a second easement for sand placement, though owners living from Inlet Harbor Road to south of the jetty in Ponce Inlet will need to grant the Army Corps a specific easement to place the dredge spoil on the beach so the county can harvest it.
"It's a different agency, they need their own easement," Fentress said. "We're going to do a very detailed door-to-door push on that once we get the land certification from the Corps."
That likely won't begin until late October, she said.
The county, Fentress added, will be pursuing a slew of repair projects during the beach off-season. On the county's radar? Seawall repairs to Sun Splash Park in Daytona Beach, permanent repairs to Edwin W. Peck, Sr. Park in Daytona Beach Shores and vehicular ramp repairs to the beach approach at 27th Avenue in New Smyrna Beach.