Fortified dunes

District 6 Councilwoman Marie Robb talks about fortified dunes in front of the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Galveston Seaside Resort on the West End of the island Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. Robb thinks the dunes at the beachside resort are an example of fortified dunes that work and would like to see them across the West End..


Some West End property owners have decided to take the issue of coastal protection into their own hands by launching an effort to build fortified dunes, anathema to state regulators, between the Gulf and their neighborhoods.

Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; or on Twitter @HeathKeri.


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(10) comments

Don Schlessinger

As a Galveston property owner and tax victim for nearly 30 years I object to one penny of my money being spent on our west end beaches. That means use of City of Galveston employees also. West end property owners knew when they bought the risks of storm damage. If not they were either lied to, not informed, or just plain stupid for buying beachfront property, to include property between 3005 and the beach. I really don't care how those homeowners build their protection as long as my tax money isn't used to assist the work. Truly open our beaches, including vehicle traffic along all our west end beaches then ask for my tax dollar. I'll be happy to share my tax money with west end home owners when our beaches are again open to all Galvestonians and Texans.

Carol Hollaway

The Galveston City Council appointed a Beach Access and Dune Protection Plan Review Ad Hoc Committee in 2018 to develop recommendations to the City’s Dune Protection and Beach Access Plan. One of the top recommendations to the City from the Committee was to engage a coastal engineer to address drainage and erosion issues along Galveston’s critically eroding shoreline. Beachfront erosion is a complex issue, one that requires that the best science and engineering be applied to finding a workable remedy. Any public or private funds dedicated to addressing erosion along the Pirates Beach shorefront should be based on scientific recommendations made from a technical study.

Bailey Jones


Susan Fennewald

Fortified dunes increase beach erosion. The only people who benefit are the front row property owners of vacation homes and rentals.

During high tides - the waves pull sand from dunes and deposit it on the beach. Look at the area in front of the seawall around 30-40th streets. You can see where the tides cut into the accumulated dunes. But you can also see good beach. When the tides just hit the wall or the fortified dune where they can't pull sand back onto the beach - they just take sand away from the beach and the beach gets smaller and smaller.

The dunes gradually accumulate more sand as the winds blow and the vegetation traps the sand. Hopefully ready for the next high tide event.

Paul Sivon

Private property rights dominate a lot of Texans’ value discussions but when push comes to shove, subsidies are always welcomed or even demanded. There is no natural solution available at Pirates Beach, there’s just not enough space for real dune development. You can move the houses or fortify. Be clear, fortification to protect the short term rental businesses and a few residents will require buyouts, beach nourishment commitment, and will restrict beach access. Many of the houses (they not really homes but rental businesses) have changed hands with the risks apparent but accepted. No easy and painless solution exists. This is a good example of what the City will be facing in 10 - 20 years with the new house building along the dune system that occurs in the West End. There’s a time to recognize that the tax value to the City of the development does not come anywhere close to the long term financial liabilities to the community. The developers don’t mind.

Bill Cochrane

Thank God, that after the 1900 storm the city and county leaders didn't come up with the "brilliant" idea of replacing the dunes, over and over, and again and again. Instead they used common sense and built a seawall that has yet to wash away, like the dunes out west keep doing. Why not do something that has been proven to work. Extend the seawall. Or, is that too common sense simple?

Paul Sivon

Yes, it’s already a partly fortified Island and full fortification will help protect structures and infrastructure after significant capital cost. But to go all the way with fortification, be willing to accept no more beach on the near West End in a beach community or continuous sand nourishment costs, if you can find the sand. Just a matter of money and preferences.

Don Schlessinger


Bailey Jones

No, that does make sense. Ultimately any piece of land that is lower than the storm surge will eventually be washed away. And most of the housing on the west end is already on stilts and could be moved or raised. But repeating the 1900 effort - a giant seawall and raising the elevation of the west end of the island - sounds really really expensive. Who pays? I don't think east enders want to. I don't think west enders do either. The state? The feds?

Kevin Moran

If the seawall were extended all the way west, you'd still have to have regular replenishments to have a beach in front of and below it! Why do you think the beach in front of the present seawall has to be replenished to make it really useful for the huge crowds that now come here almost year 'round? And any structure you place to armor a section of beach only accelerates erosion on either side of it. That's why the beach sits so far back at the west end of the current seawall.

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