• A typical day in Miami Beach is charactrized by warm, gentle breezes and calm, clear waters. It is hard to imagine that our beaches are constantly changing as a result of wave action and tidal currents. The beach system is a very dynamic environment, with some areas eroding more rapidly than others.

    Between 1975 and 1980, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) fortified the City's eastern shoreline by using offshore sand to nourish the beaches and construct a non-vegetated levee for erosion control and storm protection. In the mid-1980s, the sand levee or sand dune was vegetated by FDEP to improve its protective function, creating the vegetated dune that exists today.

    Benefits of Native Vegetation
    Native salt-tolerant vegetation is a key component of a healthy dune system. The leaves and stems trap and accumulate wind-blown sand, building up the dune and creating a sand reservoir for the system. Their roots stabilize the accumulated sand and significantly minimize erosion during high tides and storms. Additionally, during storms, the vegetation absorbs wave energy, blocks storm surge, and protects coastal infrastructure.

    The long-term success of the beach and upland properties is dependent on the health of the City's dune system. It is as simple as: no dunes, no beach. Native vegetation is so important, that a number of species are protected under state law. For example, FDEP regulations state that sea oat seeds cannot be collected without a permit and that the plants cannot be cut back or removed. FDEP approval is required before conducting any work in the dunes.

    Preserving the Dune Ecosystem
    It is the City's goal to preserve and promote the structural integrity of the dune. The City routinely removes aggressive, non-native vegetation which threatens the stability and biodiversity of the system. The most common invasive species is the Hawaiian half-flower (Scaevola frutescens), which has shallow roots that make the species less effective in dune stabilization. Scaevola should not be trimmed because it becomes a greater maintenance concern by gorwing back thicker and further spreading its seeds.

    Since 2006, volunteers from Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens and the Surfrider Foundation have helped the City restore over 6.6 acres of habitat. Through these efforts, the federally listed endangered species Jacquemontia reclinata has been succesfully reintroduced back into the system. If you are interested in participating in an upcoming volunteer dune restoration, please contact the Environmental and Sustainability Division at 305.673.7010 or ypineda@miamibeachfl.gov.

    Citywide Dune Restoration and Enhancement Project 
    In early 2014, the City retained landscape contractors through the Invitation to Bid (ITB) process to remove non-native vegetation and replant with native species in South Beach (Government Cut to 3 Street and 14 Street to 23 Street), Middle Beach (23 Street to 47 Street), and North Beach (64 Street to 79 Street). This work restored the health and structural integrity of the dune system while incorporating the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) design guidelines into vegetation management.

    The restoration work in the Middle Beach area is partially funded through a grant received from the Florida Coastal Management Program (FCMP) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)*. As part of this grant-funded project, the City installed educational signage along the boardwalk with information about the City's beach and dune system.

    Beach Erosion Control
    Over 200 miles of beaches in Florida, including Miami Beach, have been restored to date. Past USACE, Miami-Dade County, and City beach renourishment projects have been estimated to generate a $700 return for every $1 invested due to the recreational and ecological value provided by a healthy beach.

    The most recent beach renourishment project was an emergency truck haul project that Miami-Dade County conducted in June 2013. Through this project, the County trucked in approximately 10,000 cubic yards of sand from the Ortona quarry in central Florida and placed it in the vicinity of 54 Street to provide storm protection and recreational benefits to this erosional hot spot.

    Beach Grooming
    The wrack line, or tidal wrack, is the line of dried seaweed and other debris left behind by the most recent high tide. The seaweed in the wrack line acts as a sand stabilizer and is a valuable source of nutrients for coastal flora and fauna, including migratory birds. Because its removal can impact the health of the beach and dune system, blade trucks are used to turn the seaweed back into the sand every morning instead of removing it from the system.

    *This project was funded in part, through a grant agreement from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Coastal Management Program, by a grant provided by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award No. #NA11NOS4190073. The views, statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed herein are those of the City and do not necessarily reflect the views of the State of Florida, NOAA, or any of their subagencies.

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