TREASURE ISLAND Eroding beaches in this barrier island community will continue to be eligible for federal money for replacement sand after a push by Congressman David Jolly.
The Pinellas County Republican made the announcement Saturday while standing on a wide, sandy beach at the City of St. Petersburg Municipal Beach on Gulf Boulevard, joined by local officials and Florida Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena.
Although the narrow strips of sand at Sunset and Sunshine beaches on Treasure Island are scheduled for renourishment this summer, Jolly said authorization for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for future Treasure Island projects was set to expire in 2019.
The inclusion of Treasure Island in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act means area beaches would remain on the federal list until 2022 rather than potentially being dropped before the renourishment program is renewed by Congress.
Other Pinellas beaches are authorized until 2030 and beyond.
With the need to import extra sand every four or five years, the cost of these multimillion dollar projects could be saddled on state and local governments if the federal government removes its aid, a big concern for Pinellas tourism officials hoping to protect the areas top economic driver.
Jolly made beach funding a key campaign issue, promising to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, the late Congressman Bill Young, an influential representative known for bringing major federal dollars to county beaches.
Beach renourishment is one of those issues that local representation has to fight hard for, said Jolly, an Indian Shores resident.
For decades the federal government has covered 60 percent of the cost of beach restoration, matched by state and county funds at 20 percent each.
Congress makes long-term eligibility approvals about every seven years and Pinellas County beaches always have been renewed, thanks in part to Youngs stature in the U.S. House of Representatives, Jolly said.
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Treasure Island included in beach renourishment plan