The Dune Science Group evolved from an effort of retired coastal geomorphologist Frank Hopf to help civic leadership in Fernandina Beach, Florida on Amelia Island with municipal dune restoration and to understand the importance of coastal dunes to the protection of their community from hurricane impacts, sea level rise and beach erosion. Frank Hopf met with city officials to educate them and raise their awareness about how municipal dune restoration and developing resiliency policies could mitigate the worst effects of coastal storms on the city.
Municipal Dune Walkovers
During his initial outreach to help government officials deal with managing their beaches, one reoccurring headache emerged: How to get residents and tourists across the dunes easily without destroying the dunes? Along with driving on beaches, foot traffic over dunes does more damage to sensitive coastal sand dunes than even storms. But in high population and tourist areas, how do you avoid this without blocking access to the beaches which residents and visitors love to access?
The traditional way for municipalities to provide beach access for high traffic areas has been construction of preservative-treated wood walkovers connecting parking areas to the beach. These are expensive to build and even more expensive to maintain. They also introduce toxins into beaches and dunes as the preservative materials in pressure treated lumber are full of chemicals.
On top of that, wooden beach walkovers like those used by most communities last only a few years and require constant and expensive maintenance to even make it that long. As they quickly deteriorate from the beating they receive by sun, salt water, coastal storms and heavy use, they additionally become a liability from a safety standpoint.
The Dune Science Group was asked as part of our original work to research preferable options to wood walkovers. After considerable research into all of the alternatives, we have developed connections with a network of engineers, construction experts and material suppliers to develop the best walkover for municipalities. The results of our research were presented at the 2020 American Beach and Shore Preservation Association annual convention and the PowerPoint from that presentation is found by Clicking Here.
We also strive to understand the specific morphology of each dune system and beachfront and take into consideration the specific demands of individual communities to access the beach in our walkover designs. We use this knowledge to develop a customized design and installation plan for each walkover
We appreciate that municipalities rarely have sufficient financial resources to build everything required to fully protect their dunes and communities from the incredible damage coastal storms present. As a result, Dune Science Group can help communities prioritize walkover requirements and develop plans for lower cost pathways to the beach without completely sacrificing protection on the dune and user convenience.
Municipal Dune Restoration
Walkovers alone can promote dune restoration, but communities sincerely committed to the protection dunes offer their residents and property should help speed the dune restoration process along to get ahead of the next tropical storm or Nor’easter which will, inevitably, occur.
The Dune Science Group is deeply grounded in the school of coastal scientists actively promoting natural and nature-based coastal protection activities. We first promote the4 planting of native dune vegetation to grow and protect sand dunes, with occasional need for sand fencing. We work with communities to select native plants evolved to anchor their dunes with deep root systems while also providing remarkable aesthetic beauty and habitat services such as food and shelter for pollinators and birds, water filtration and flood mitigation.
When the best option is construction of a manmade dune, we promote a natural contouring informed by our thorough study of beach erosion and wave energy along with revegetation using a wide variety of native plants we source from specialty nurseries to incorporate as much habitat restoration (or creation) and natural strengthening of the dune as possible.
The Dune Science Group is prepared to manage your dune restoration project be that 50 feet or several miles, relying on our continually expanding experience and research of municipal dune restoration and coastal resiliency to develop the most appropriate plan for your beach.
Other Services for Communities
In communities the Dune Science Group serves, we are committed to providing public support for the growth and development of dunes and beaches. Our support has featured public awareness seminars about beach and dune resiliency as well as organizing volunteer training for community wide dune planting projects.
We also provide expert testimony to government meetings, assess and redress FEMA flood plain areas and designations for insurance purposes, assist in the procurement of grants to help fund projects and offer custom dune and beach management plans to help inform municipalities about what their future risks and options are.
Dune Science Group + local government