Volunteers to help county clean up mile-long stretch of reef

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A group of about 50 volunteers and county workers could save Indian River County $250,000 by cleaning up a mile-long stretch of near-shore reef from Summerplace to Sea Oaks as part of the beach restoration monitoring process.

That particular section of reef has contained debris dating back to the 2004 hurricanes, possibly because of the angle it faces toward the beach, County Coastal Engineer James Gray said Monday. The cleanup, scheduled for Aug. 28, will give the county a one-quarter acre credit against any future reef cleanup that might be required.


Gray stressed that the mostly volunteer cleanup campaign is not a result of the current beach restoration, but that the pro-active effort could give the county credit should future monitoring show damage to the reef. The state charges about $1 million an acre when it must step in to clean reefs.

Damage to the inland reefs is not expected as the county chose to use overland sand rather than dredge and pump it from offshore. The latter would have required building a pipeline from sea to shore that could have affected the limestone reefs.

“The project was designed to have no impact on the reefs,” Gray said. “And we aren’t anticipating there being any, but we are required to monitor any impact.”

The cleanup will involve six dive boats and about 30 divers. Initial inspection of the reef shows lawn chairs, concrete rubble and other types of debris, much of which washed out when Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne bashed the Treasure Coast in 2004.

Gray said they are expecting to collect enough trash to fill a 40-cubic-yard dumpster.

In other news from the Beach and Shore Restoration Preservation Advisory Committee, sea turtle monitoring is in full swing and while results are still being analyzed the season looks to be the best in five years.

The state will be looking at those results to make sure sea turtle nesting was not affected by the upland sand and which will be one of the criteria for the county being able to continue its beach restoration efforts when nesting season ends.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the reef cleanup can call County Coastal Engineer James Gray at (772) 226-1344.

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