State Goals of Palm Beach Island BMA Pilot Project
Officials said the goal of the agreement is to bring all interested parties together to shape a comprehensive approach to coastal management in the 15.7 mile stretch between the Palm Beach and Boynton inlets. Stakeholders include Mayor Gail Coniglio, Town Manager Peter Elwell, The Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, representatives of Palm Beach County, neighboring municipalities and counties, Palm Beach County, Citizens’ Association of Palm Beach, SOS, environmental groups, including the Palm Beach Reef Rescue and the Surfrider Foundation, as well as town residents.
Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs of the Department of Environmental Protection, Jeff Littlejohn, proposed the concept of a beach management agreement during a visit to Palm Beach. The BMA would be a way to expedite the state environmental permitting process, which is currently lengthy, costly and fraught with uncertainty. The management agreement is a pilot project that, if successful, may be duplicated along other stretches of Florida's coast.
DEP’s Bureau Chief of Bureau of Beaches & Coastal Systems, Danielle H. Fondren, said that an important goal is to maintain the width of beaches while extending the intervals between sand nourishment. She also said the agreement must be environmentally responsible, with monitoring of the physical and biological impacts of the various erosion-control projects within it. Nine projects are currently contemplated along the 15.7 mile stretch, and more could be added. The key will be to consider them and their environmental impacts as a whole, rather than separately. The DEP is trying to look at a holistic management of the beaches.
Beach fills and other erosion-control projects are required to receive state environmental permits from the DEP, and federal environmental permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. At least three Army Corps representatives are involved in the BMA process to advise DEP and other officials on how the Corps€' regulatory requirements might fit into the management-agreement process.