Recently, it has came to light, that the United States of
America's Congress has spent in excess of $3 BILLION of
federal funding into Dredging (more "politically correct"
known as Beach Renourishment). Even Tom Coburn, M.D.
(R) Senator from Oklahoma recently released the report
"Washed Out To Sea", that not only brings out a "small"
amount of light, in terms of the political corruption and
deep pocket lobbying, that ultimately only aides the
politicians and the lobbyists. In Dr. Coburn's report,
he states that "roughly $100 million every year in federal
funds is appropriated to ensuring coastal town benefitting
from lobbying and political influence on Capitol Hill
maintain picturesque beaches for property owners and
tourists".¹ What Dr. Coburn fails to mention, or
possibly even realize, is that the majority of the money
that has been spent since the 1950's until current time, has
predominantly been spent on a SINGLE method of Beach "Renourishment",
Dredging. Even more so astonishing, is the very
limited number of corporations, who perform these services.
With such few companies even involved in such a high dollar
industry, the stakes remain high for the Dredging companies
to continue with their "heavy cash handshakes" (You know,
the D.C. way...), lobbyists and political "games" to ensure
to keep their own pockets fat.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), federal beach nourishment spending has increased from almost $40 million from 1950 to 1959, to almost $836 million dollars between 1990 and 1999. In Dr. Coburn's report, he states that "On average, Congress has spent more than $100 million every year since 1997 for beach replenishment." ¹
What many do not realize again, this money is generally
matched and/or exceeded by private funds, generally either
property owners, communities, state level funding, private
Many coastal experts, including those cited by Dr. Tom
Coburn, analyze and conclude that "Almost, without
exception, nourished beaches disappear faster than natural
beaches (2 to 12 times faster by our estimate)...(and
nourished) beaches recover poorly after storms compared to
natural beaches..." Their analysis is in regards to
Dredging (Beach "Renourishment").
The beach at Cape May, New Jersey, was renourished 10
times between 1962 and 1995, at a total cost of $24.7
million. Another beach at Ocean City, New Jersey, was
renourished 22 times between 1952 and 1995 at a total cost
of more than $83.1 million.
A Beach nourishment project carried out in early 2007 for
Long Beach Island in New Jersey was declared ineffective by
the local mayor within a year. A large amount of added
sand and sediment was washed away, leading the town's mayor
to conclude about the coast line, "It's right back to where
Many criticize the expenses that are associated with the
maintenance and up keep of the beaches all around the world. Beaches in the United States contribute more than $320
BILLION annually to the U.S. economy.² "Perhaps American do not appreciate the importance of
tourism to the national economy because 98 percent of the
1.4 million tourism-related businesses in the United States
are classified as small businesses, and this makes the
industry extremely fragmented. Lacking national
advertising from either this fragmented industry or a
national travel office, the importance of travel and tourism
to the national economy has not been communicated to the
American people" states James R.
Houston, Ph.D and director of Research and Development, U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers.² "Without a paradigm shift in attitudes toward the economic
significance of travel and tourism and necessary
infrastructure investment to maintain and restore beaches,
the U.S. will relinquish a dominant worldwide lead in its
most important industry." says Houston.²
In 2008, Houston presented the following facts from
research conducted in 1995 and 2002. In the 2008
findings, Houston, the director of research and development
for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, presents the following
- Travel and tourism is the world's largest
and America's largest employer, with 1 of every 10 Americans
employed in the field.
- International tourists, who represent up to 15% of the U.S. tourism industry, produced estimated tax revenues of $13.6 Billion for this country in 2006 alone-- continuing to be one of the few bright spots in the country's long-term international trade imbalance.
- Coastal states receive about 85% of tourist-related revenues in the U.S. It's estimated that some 180 million American annually make 2 billion visits to ocean, gulf and inland beaches-- more than twice as many visitors that go to all the National Park Sercie properties during the same period.
- It's estimated that U.S. beaches contribute more than $320 Billion annually to the national economy-- more than 25 times what all the National parks bring in combined. However, the federal contribution to help maintain and management U.S. beaches amounts to less than 4% of the $2.65 Billion annual budget for the park service.
- Beach erosion is the No.1 concern beach tourists have about beaches. And in area where eroded beaches have been restored, tourist visits and revenues increase. At Miami Beach,
following its successful beach restoration in the late 1970s
beach visits jumped 162% and the annual contribution of
tourism to the local economy rose to $11 Billion -- with
almost $5 Billion of that coming from international
- Beaches offer the federal government an incredible return on investment. For every $1 invested annually, Washington receives $320 in tax revenues from beach tourists. Conversely, however, should beaches decline the tourism revenue they generate would also slump, having a serious impact on both state and federal coffers to the tune of billions of dollars per year.
- The infrastructure deficit that's been rising in the national debate needs to encompass beaches as well-- because our overseas tourism competitors are putting their financial resources into their coastlines. Germany has spent almost five times what the U.S. has spends to protect its coasts over the past 40 years-- for a shoreline that's less than 5% the length of the U.S. coast. Japan's budget for shore protection in a single year topped what the U.S. spent the last 40 years-- and Spain, a major competitor for beach tourism, has spent more than that in a five-year plan to restore and renew its coastline.
- The U.S. currently has no nationally-funded tourism advertising while countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Greece, Singapore and Spain each spend $100 Million or more annually on international marketing. Similarly, if U.S. beaches decline in quality, international tourists have numerous, more
convenient choices in countries eagerly marketing their coastlines as vacation options.
- There is a world economy in tourism that gives consumers ample choices and produces stiff worldwide competition. America's share of the global inbound tourism market has dropped 35 percent since 1993; the U.S. has lost 18% of its international market share in just five years. The significant drop in international tourists has cost the American economy $286 billion in the last 13 years including the $44 Billion in 2005.
So taking these facts into consideration, Beaches are obviously a key economic factor for States and the Federal Government. Even more so, if savings can be found by other methods, such as Sandsaver, who would require less
initial costs, less maintenance, less political "good ol'
boys club" money, all while not "taking in" Sea Turtles like
the Dredging operations tend to do, the costs decrease
significantly, producing better results, requiring less tax
payer dollars. It's a win-win situation for all parties
involved, the State/Federal Taxpayers, anyone who uses the
Beach, anyone employed in tourism, anyone who plans on being
a tourist at some point, anyone who relies on tourist
activities for income and even those who feel the current
level of spending on such temporary solutions, such as
Please, join in saving the beaches all across the world!
¹Coburn, Tom M.D., United States Senate, 111th Congress, "Washed Out
to Sea: How Congress Prioritizes Beach Pork Over National
Needs", May 2009
² Haisman, Tina, Media Relations, ASBPA, "New study shows beaches are a key driver of U.S. Economy", http://www.asbpa.org/news/Beach_News/080814Houston.pdf
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