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Remembering Jim Guidry Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
Galveston County
Beach Watch
by Virginia Greb
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

This Spring, the third phase of beach replenishment projects initiated by the Galveston Park Board of Trustees was completed along the historic beach of Galveston that stretches from 10th-61st Street. The beaches were elevated and widened in an effort to lessen the impact of erosion caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes and severe flooding due to storm surge and provide more beachfront for recreational purposes. This week, Tropical Storm Cindy gave us an opportunity to observe how well our newly replenished beaches fare against high winds, heavy rain and flooding.

Texas A&M University at Galveston graduate student Ben Ritt and I monitored the after-effect of Tropical Storm Cindy utilizing drone footage to monitor shoreline changes. Ben flies a drone over a specific area and uses photogrammy, a type of low-altitude remote sensing, to measure where the sand is moving, how quickly it is moving and changes that develop in beach contour. While collecting drone footage, we observed the elevated and widened beaches had formed pools of water in certain areas onshore. These pools provide ecological benefits to shorebirds as a place to feast upon smaller organisms such as fish that had been displaced during the storm. The pools were also collecting sargassum and other debris that had washed ashore during the storm rather than these materials being scattered throughout the beach. However, the pools of water did not deter beachgoers. Locals and tourists continued to enjoy the elevated and widened beach by flying kites and jumping in the waves.

Erosion of Galveston beaches cannot be prevented but the process can be slowed down through soft measures of shoreline protection, such as beach replenishment projects, the Park Board along with local, state and national partners helped to accomplish.

Ben will continue to monitor the three replenished beaches located at Dellanera RV Park, Babe’s Beach and the Historic Beach as part of his thesis project. Stay tuned for future updates regarding the movement of replenished sand as I assist Ben with his research.

Virginia Greb is a recent graduate of the Master of Marine Resources Management program at TAMUG.

Coastal Surge Protection GRCC

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