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Beach and dune study underway at South Padre Island

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The city of South Padre Island is performing an updated beach and dune study to understand how the beach has changed year by year.

The last time the city was been able to do a comprehensive study was in 1993. So far, the findings show the beach to be healthier than in previous years, but it's still in a vulnerable state.

SPI joined forces with Integral Consulting to get a better idea of how the coastline is currently doing. The group is gathering data to better understand the resiliency and strength of the beaches and dunes of South Padre Island.

"This is important to note because the beaches and dunes are the first line of defense to protect the city assets from storms and sea-level rise," said Dr. Cheryl Hapke, a senior consultant for Integral Consulting.

Dr. Hapke says through the study, they can take a deep dive into understanding the changes the beaches and dunes have gone through since 1993.

Shoreline director for South Padre Island Kristina Boburka says along with protection, maintaining the beach will keep tourism alive, too.

"It's a huge economic driver for our whole region down here, so making sure we have a good beach that will withstand any storms, as well as for recreation, is super important for our city," Boburka said. 

The city says they were finally able to do this study because of funding through several groups, including the Coastal Management Program Cycle 24 grant, the Texas General Land Office and the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration.

The city is working on a restoration process that is helping keep the beaches and dunes healthy.

Fences spotted along the beach aim to restore dunes that were damaged by storms, but Dr. Hapke says walkways that cut through the dunes aren't helping with the restoration process.

"If it's just a pathway cut through the dune--if you have a big storm, the water is going to run up on the beach and it's going to be a path right back and it can really start to scour out the rest of the adjacent dunes," Dr. Hapke said. 

Dr. Hapke says while the beach is healthier, especially with the work the city is doing, she found those private walkways from businesses make the island vulnerable.

The city is taking recommendations from the public about the project.

If you want to provide some feedback, visit https://www.myspi.org/department/division.php?structureid=76

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