News Flash

Inside the Park Board

Posted on: March 5, 2019

Beach Cleaning Contingency Planning

If you’ve lived on the island very long, you’ll remember that summer 2014  brought with it tons and tons of seaweed. Known as the “Summer of  Seaweed,” the Park Board has spent a lot of time — and money — making plans to keep the beach as clean as possible when the inevitable inundation returns.
Some of those who are especially concerned are property owners along public beaches on the West End. Until recently, homeowners’ associations there could contract with third-party vendors to operate under the Park  Board’s federal beach cleaning permit. Citing fears that the permit could be revoked because of liability issues, the Park Board decided last year to stop the practice that allows for these vendors.
As spring break, summer, and the possibility of seaweed landings near, the  Park Board is busy making plans to keep the West End’s public beaches clean while still adhering to the federal permit’s stipulations.

At  a recent meeting, the board decided to meet with its partners to  determine the criteria that trigger a “contingency.” According to the federal permit, when a contingency occurs, heavy equipment may be used to clean the beaches. Making use of this equipment, particularly environmentally-friendly beach rakes has proven indispensable during times of larger than normal seaweed landings.

Were  not required by law to clean up organic material, like seaweed,” Park  Board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun, said. “But, I represent the  tourism bureau and I understand that clean beaches are vital to the  success of this important industry. I also understand that seaweed is  important for the environment and marine life. I look forward to the  opportunity to engage our partners and come up with solutions that will  be beneficial for all concerned.

One solution could be to develop a new permit. Recently, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, members of the Park Board’s Beach  Maintenance Advisory Committee members and other interested parties met to discuss options for keeping West End public beaches clean. As a  result, the USACE said it plans to develop a regional permit that would allow entities that agree to its terms and conditions to obtain an individual permit for $100.
That permit process could take at least two years to complete. In the meantime, the plan for a contingency is expected to guide Park Board’s beach cleaning crews until a modified permit is an option.
Park board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 601 23rd St. in Galveston.
Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations coordinator for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.

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