More sand dunes, sea oats coming to Harrison County beaches

It’s all part of an effort to keep the beaches in pristine condition during the cool months of the year.

More sand dunes, sea oats coming to Harrison County beaches

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - With fall here, beach crews were out Tuesday sprucing up 26 miles of the Coast after Monday’s stormy weather.

Coast beaches have faced multiple challenges over the last six months. Despite those setbacks, the beach is spending the cooler months by getting some needed improvements.

Crews were out on Tuesday sprucing up the beach after Monday’s stormy weather. From Henderson Point to the Point in Biloxi, the beaches are now pristine.

During the summer, the weather was good, but those MDEQ swimming advisories kept people away from the sand.

"The perception that everybody thought the beaches were closed, but the beaches were always open,” said Chuck Loftis, Harrison Co. sand beach director. “The water was under advisory, but it was kind of hard to come to the beach and not get into the water because it was 95-100 degrees. We had to keep that perception that the beaches were still open in Harrison County."

Then three months ago, Hurricane Barry churned up just enough surf and debris to make a mess of the beach and the sand dunes and sea oats in place to keep the sand off Highway 90.

“We had quite a bit of debris wash up from the barrier islands and we had to profile the beach back to its regular template, so yeah, it was quite a bit of work we still had to do,” Loftis said. “The tropical events put a damper on the dune grass hills and stunt their growth. But hopefully we won’t have any kind of tropical events."

As far as those sea oats and sand dunes go, the state was hoping for a $2 million allocation to put in more dunes. However, they received $200,000.

“Two hundred is better than nothing,” he added. “The dune grass project is going to be fantastic for us. It helps on the erosion, it helps on the blowing sand situation, so it’s a win-win for us. We have quite a few sections where we don’t have any dune grass where it’s not so populated by the general public, so we need to put more out, so hopefully this will take care of it.”

Phase one of the storm drain outfalls on the beach is also essentially complete now. Two have been built just east of the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, and the most recent storm drain outfall is complete near the Beau Rivage.

The $4.9 million project funding through GOMESA is to improve the overall look and effectiveness of storm drains all over the Coast.

Governor Phil Bryant will be in Biloxi on Wednesday for a ribbon cutting at one of the outfalls.

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