I shielded my eyes against the bright summer sun as I hopped out of the county vehicle. We are in the busy tourist season here on the Florida Panhandle, and I could hear the beach-goers before I saw them. I was on the shoreline to check out the recently completed “dune walkovers,” five new structures linking the inland to the water. Smiling, I recognized that this was one of the best aspects of my job: completing projects that help people and the ecosystem simultaneously.
Dunes are gorgeous. They roll gently or peak sharply, undulating across the landscape in shining white mounds. Sea oats and other vegetation – stabilizing the sand structures – wave gently in the breeze and add color to the coastal environment. In addition to their visual benefits to the view-shed, dunes protect property and the beach system as a whole. Unfortunately, they are also sensitive to human impacts.
Read the rest at the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment.