A CIESE Realtime Data Project

Teacher Guide: Lesson Plans

Beach Replenishment Mock Hearing

Students will be able to:

  • describe the major issues and stakeholders involved with a beach nourishment/replenishment project

Scoring rubric
Computers with Internet access

With a large proportion of the U.S. population living near sea and lake shores, and an estimated 75% of U.S. vacations being spent at the beach, there is interest in protecting these areas from damage. The Army Corps of Engineers looks for the most economical, environmentally sound and socially acceptable solutions to shore protection. Solutions can involve hard structures, such as jetties,
seawalls, etc or other options such as beach nourishment. When a beach is fully nourished, during storms the sand acts as a buffer and protects the structures behind the beach. Storm waves move the sand offshore, causing the waves to also break further offshore and provide less threat to property. Much of the sand that moves offshore during storms remains in the system and returns to the beaches, carried by the smaller waves prevalent during summer. Some sand will be lost from the system; yet this is often a wise investment, as the cost of replacing sand is many times less than the cost of repairing property damaged by a storm.

Corps shore protection projects are usually cost-shared with the State, the local jurisdiction where the project is located, or both. In cases where the project involves beach nourishment, the cost sharing agreement usually calls for periodic re-nourishment, often over a period of 50 years. The Federal Government has honored all such commitments. A 1996 study commissioned by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget concluded that Corps beach nourishment projects have performed generally as designed. Actual renourishment volumes, averaged over all projects, have been within 5% of predicted volumes. Actual costs have been 1% less than predicted costs for the initial beach restoration and 10% less than predicted costs for periodic nourishment.

The Corps of Engineers carries out shore protection projects at the request of local sponsors, as authorized and funded by Congress. Projects are performed only on publicly accessible beaches, and only after thorough studies have determined a positive cost to benefit ratio exists. Although Corps projects provide benefits such as shoreline protection, habitat protection and renewal, and the generation of tax dollars associated with that recreation, the primary purpose is always the protection of life and property.

There have been a number of American geologists who have written papers faulting the basic design concepts used by coastal engineers. This group of geologists has determined that the Army Corps, and the industrial complex which has built up around the corps, ignore well-established geological findings about how the beach system actually works.

In this lesson, students will explore the many opposing views regarding beach nourishment (replenishment) projects.

Public Announcement
Next week a public hearing will be held, with equal time given to all parties with a vested interest, in the Proposed Beach Nourishment (Replenishment) Project. Organized groups expected to be represented will be 1) Local Homeowners, 2) Local Business Owners, 3) Environmental Activists, 4) USGS and Army Corps of Engineers representatives, 5) Local, County, State and Federal Government Officials, 6) FEMA representatives.

All arguments/testimonies will be given before all parties involved, a judge, and a jury representative of the local population. A decision handed down by the judge (teacher) and jury will stand as the final ruling and this decision will be awarded to the most persuasive argument presented by any of the involved parties.

Interested Parties/Stakeholders

Local Homeowners

  • Homes at risk
  • Who will pay for new home, relocation, etc.?
  • Will everyone receive equal payment? Hold-outs get more?

Local Business Owners

  • Will businesses survive?
  • Tourism
  • Government subsidy?

Environmental Activists

  • Interrupt natural process
  • Re-suspend contaminated sediments
  • Disrupt local ecosystems

USGS and Army Corps of Engineers

  • Amount of sand to be moved to complete project
  • Building of new structures to stabilize new sand base
  • Calculates/Estimated time new beaches will survive

Local, County, State and Federal Government Officials

  • Homeowner, Business Owner and Environmental concerns
  • $ from Tourism
  • Fed. Governmental aide v. Local $ needs

FEMA Representatives

  • Estimated values of area homes and businesses
  • Storm History and Local Flood Zones

1. Form interest groups for the hearing. Students will research the information and represent the interests of the respective groups.

2. Students will be graded as a group upon the research completed and the thorough development and delivery (including persuasiveness) of the group's argument. All arguments will be evaluated with the same criteria by the members of the "jury" and by the judge.

3. The second portion of the grade for this project will be based on a position paper. Each student will be responsible for completing a 2 page paper that states your position as a member of your interest group. For example, if you are a part of the environmentalists group, you will create a fictional character that will incorporate all of your research and will reflect your opinions on the beach replenishment project. This paper will provide an outlet to present your research and fully develop your argument.

4. The following sites might be helpful with research:

Group performance at the hearing and individual 2 page paper.