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Date of Issue: January 06, 2010

Possible loss of groins makes surfers groan

Surfers say the groins — closed to the public — at Cortez Beach improve the surf conditions at the Bradenton Beach location. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

The possible removal of three groins on the Gulf shore in Bradenton Beach has some surfers concerned that they might lose a surf location.

“I go there because White Avenue is so crowded,” Bradenton surfer Paul Hinkley said of the surf spot at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach. “It’s a good place to ride, and easy to get to.”

The three groins, including two referred to as the “Twin Piers” among surfers, may come down as part of a 2014 federal beach renourishment campaign.

But, renourishment officials stress, there is no current plan for the removal of the structures, which already are closed to the public.

The groins are within the area proposed for renourishment in 2014 in a federal Army Corps of Engineers project and immediately north of the area proposed for renourishment in 2012-13 in a Manatee County/Florida Department of Environmental Protection project.

“DEP has not ordered the groins removed in conjunction with this project,” DEP spokesperson Dee Ann Miller said, referring to the 2012-13 renourishment work, which will focus on building up the shoreline of Coquina Beach, a public recreation area.

But state regulations could necessitate the removal of the groins for the 2014 project, which involves an Islandwide renourishment.

A Florida coastal construction statute states, “Any coastal construction, or any structure including groins, jetties, moles, breakwaters, seawalls, revetments, or other structures of a solid or highly impermeable design … which serves no public purpose, which is dangerous to or in any way endangers human life, health or welfare, or which proves to be undesirable … shall be adjusted, altered or removed.”

In reviewing an initial renourishment application, the DEP indicated that the usefulness of the three groins may be evaluated.

“There is no official evaluation of the purpose, safety or necessity of these structures at the state level nor any plan at the state or federal level at this time,” Miller said. “The state will ask for information and make an evaluation as part of the assessment process in the processing of the future permit” for renourishment.

So some surfers said they are discussing a petition to save the groins.

“I think if they go, we lose the surfing there,” said surfer Candice Huntley of Bradenton.

Others, however, said they prefer a natural beach and natural surf conditions.

“There’s a community within the surf community, and it’s growing, that is really all for natural shores,” said surfer Henry Sole.