(1) The Legislature recognizes that beach erosion is a statewide problem that does not confine its effects to local governmental jurisdictions and that beach erosion can be adequately addressed most efficiently by a state-initiated program of beach restoration and beach nourishment. However, since local beach communities derive the primary benefits from the presence of adequate beaches, a program of beach restoration and beach nourishment should not be accomplished without a commitment of local funds to combat the problem of beach erosion. Accordingly, the Legislature declares that the state, through the department, shall determine those beaches which are critically eroded and in need of restoration and nourishment and may authorize appropriations to pay up to 75 percent of the actual costs for restoring and nourishing a critically eroded beach. The local government in which the beach is located shall be responsible for the balance of such costs.
(2) To carry out the beach and shore preservation programs, the department is hereby constituted as the beach and shore preservation authority for the state. In this capacity, the secretary of the department may at his or her own initiative take all necessary steps as soon as practicable and desirable to implement the provisions of this chapter.
(3) Whenever a beach erosion control project has been authorized by Congress for federal financial participation in accordance with any Act of Congress relating to beach erosion control in which nonfederal participation is required, it shall be the policy of the state to assist with an equitable share of such funds to the extent that funds are available, as determined by the department.
(4) The department, for itself or on behalf of any and all duly established beach and shore preservation districts and local governments within the state, may enter into cooperative agreements and otherwise cooperate with, and meet the requirements and conditions (including, but not limited to, execution of indemnification agreements) of, federal, state, and other local governments and political entities, or any agencies or representatives thereof, for the purpose of improving, furthering, and expediting the beach management program.
(5) The department is authorized, for and on behalf of the state, to accept such federal moneys for beach erosion control as are available and to sign all necessary agreements therefor and to do and perform all necessary acts in connection therewith to effectuate the intent and purposes of this act.
(6) The department is authorized to make application for federal participation in the cost of any beach and shore preservation project under any Acts of Congress and all amendments thereto.
(7) The department is authorized to implement regional components of the beach management plan pursuant to ss. 161.091 and 161.161 and, where appropriate, to enter into agreements with the Federal Government, inlet districts, port authorities, intercoastal waterway districts, and local governments to cost share and coordinate such activity. (8) The department is authorized to sponsor or cosponsor demonstration projects of new or innovative technologies which have the potential to reduce project costs, conserve beach quality sand, extend the life of beach nourishment projects, and improve inlet sand bypassing pursuant to s. 161.091.
(9)(a) Because improved, modified, or altered inlets are a significant cause of beach erosion, it is the Legislature’s intent to manage the erosive impacts of inlets under the state’s beach management program. Accordingly, it is the further intent of the Legislature for the state to cost share those components of inlet projects that minimize the erosive effects of the inlet or cost-effectively provide for the placement of beach-quality material on adjacent eroded beaches.
(b) The department is authorized to enter into cooperative agreements with local governments, including cities, counties, and special districts, for inlet management activities and to cost share those components of inlet projects that minimize the erosive effects of the inlet or cost-effectively provide for the placement of beach-quality material on adjacent eroded beaches.
(10) The department is authorized to pay up to 100 percent of the costs of approved beach erosion control projects when construction and maintenance are on lands of which the state is the upland riparian owner.
(11) With regard to a project approved in accordance with s. 161.161, the department is authorized to pay from legislative appropriations specifically provided for these purposes an amount up to 75 percent of the costs of contractual services, including, but not limited to, the costs for:
(a) Feasibility and related planning studies.
(d) Monitoring. The state shall cost share in all biological and physical monitoring requirements which are based upon scientifically based criteria.
(12) A project, in order to receive state funds, shall provide for adequate public access, protect natural resources, and provide protection for endangered and threatened species.
(13) The department shall not fund projects that provide only recreational benefits. All funded activities must have an identifiable beach erosion control or beach preservation benefit directed toward maintaining or enhancing sand in the system. Activities ineligible for cost sharing include, but are not limited to:
(a) Recreational structures such as piers, decks, and boardwalks.
(b) Park activities and facilities except for erosion control.
(c) Aesthetic vegetation.
(d) Water quality components of stormwater management systems.
(e) Experimental or demonstration projects unless favorably peer reviewed or scientifically documented.
(f) Hard structures unless designed for erosion control or to enhance beach nourishment project longevity or bypassing performance.
(g) Operations and maintenance, with the exception of nourishment.
(h) Maintenance and repair of over-walks.
(i) Navigation construction, operation, and maintenance activities, except those elements whose purpose is to place or keep sand on adjacent beaches.
1(14) The intent of the Legislature in preserving and protecting Florida’s sandy beaches pursuant to this act is to direct beach erosion control appropriations to the state’s most severely eroded beaches, and to prevent further adverse impact caused by improved, modified, or altered inlets, coastal armoring, or existing upland development. In establishing annual project funding priorities, the department shall seek formal input from local coastal governments, beach and general government interest groups, and university experts. Criteria to be considered by the department in determining annual funding priorities shall include:
(a) The severity of erosion conditions, the threat to existing upland development, and recreational and/or economic benefits.
(b) The availability of federal matching dollars.
(c) The extent of local government sponsor financial and administrative commitment to the project, including a long-term financial plan with a designated funding source or sources for initial construction and periodic maintenance.
(d) Previous state commitment and involvement in the project.
(e) The anticipated physical performance of the proposed project, including the frequency of periodic planned nourishment.
(f) The extent to which the proposed project mitigates the adverse impact of improved, modified, or altered inlets on adjacent beaches.
(g) Innovative, cost-effective, and environmentally sensitive applications to reduce erosion.
(h) Projects that provide enhanced habitat within or adjacent to designated refuges of nesting sea turtles.
(i) The extent to which local or regional sponsors of beach erosion control projects agree to coordinate the planning, design, and construction of their projects to take advantage of identifiable cost savings.
(j) The degree to which the project addresses the state’s most significant beach erosion problems.
In the event that more than one project qualifies equally under the provisions of this subsection, the department shall assign funding priority to those projects that are ready to proceed.
(15) Until the unmet demand for repairing Florida’s damaged beaches and dunes is satisfied, it is the further intent of the Legislature to cost share such projects equally between the state and local sponsors.
(16) In order to encourage regional approaches that provide cost savings, and notwithstanding subsection (15), actual cost savings that can be documented as resulting from geographic coordination and sequencing of two or more discrete erosion control projects shall proportionally reduce each local sponsor’s cost share as long as the state financial participation does not exceed 75 percent.
(17) The selection of a project engineer acceptable to the department by local government as project sponsor shall be on the basis of competitive negotiation as provided in chapter 287. The project sponsor shall assume full responsibility for all project costs in excess of the state cost limitation.
(18) A local government desiring to initiate and pay the entire cost of designing, constructing, and maintaining an erosion control project prior to the state’s initiating such construction may be reimbursed from state funds on the basis of the procedures set forth in s. 161.161, provided the project is approved by the department before initiation of construction and based on legislative appropriations and whether it furthers the provisions of s. 161.161. Such local interests shall, as project sponsor, be responsible for obtaining federal reimbursement in the case of federal-aid projects. (19) Twenty-five percent of any funds appropriated for implementation of this section shall be held by the department until the last quarter of the fiscal year for which the appropriation is made. This amount shall be used to meet emergencies prescribed in s. 161.111. If no such emergencies occur, then these funds may be released in the last quarter of the fiscal year in which the appropriation is made for projects. (20) The department shall maintain active project lists, updated at least quarterly, on its website by fiscal year in order to provide transparency regarding those projects receiving funding and the funding amounts and to facilitate legislative reporting and oversight. In consideration of this intent: (a) The department shall notify the Executive Office of the Governor and the Legislature regarding any significant changes in the funding levels of a given project as initially requested in the department’s budget submission and subsequently included in approved annual funding allocations. The term “significant change” means a project-specific change or cumulative changes that exceed the project’s original allocation by $500,000 or that exceed 25 percent of the project’s original allocation. 1. Except as provided in subparagraph 2., if there is surplus funding, the department must notify and provide supporting justification to the Executive Office of the Governor and the Legislature to indicate whether surplus dollars are intended to be used for inlet management projects pursuant to s. 161.143 or for beach restoration and beach nourishment projects, offered for reversion as part of the next appropriations process, or used for other specified priority projects on active project lists.
2. The department may use surplus funds for projects identified in subparagraph 1. that do not have a significant change. The department must post the uses of such funds on the project listing web page of its website. The department is not required to post any other notice or supporting justification before it uses the surplus funds for a project that does not have a significant change.
(b) The department shall prepare a summary of project activities, their funding status, and changes to annual project lists for the current and preceding fiscal year. The department shall include the summary with the department’s submission of its annual legislative budget request.
(c) Funding for specific projects on annual project lists approved by the Legislature must remain available for such projects for 18 months. A local project sponsor may at any time release, in whole or in part, appropriated project dollars by formal notification to the department. The department shall notify the Executive Office of the Governor and the Legislature of such release and indicate in the notification how the project dollars are recommended to be used after such release.
(21) The department may adopt rules to implement this section.
1Note.—Section 1, ch. 2019-122, amended subsection (14), effective July 1, 2020, to read:
(14) The intent of the Legislature in preserving and protecting Florida’s sandy beaches pursuant to this act is to direct beach erosion control appropriations to the state’s most severely eroded beaches and to prevent further adverse impact caused by improved, modified, or altered inlets, coastal armoring, or existing upland development. In establishing annual project funding priorities, the department shall seek formal input from local coastal governments, beach and general government interest groups, and university experts. The department shall implement a scoring system for annual project funding priorities that consists of criteria equally weighted within the following specified tiers:
(a) Tier 1 must account for 20 percent of the total score and consist of the tourism-related return on investment and the economic impact of the project. The return on investment of the project is the ratio of the tourism-related tax revenues for the most recent year to the amount of state funding requested for the proposed project. The economic impact of the project is the ratio of the tourism-related tax revenues for the most recent year to all county tax revenues for the most recent year. The department must calculate these ratios using state sales tax and tourism development tax data of the county having jurisdiction over the project area. If multiple counties have jurisdiction over the project area, the department must assess each county individually using these ratios. The department shall calculate the mean average of these ratios to determine the final overall assessment for the multicounty project.
(b) Tier 2 must account for 45 percent of the total score and consist of all of the following criteria:
1. The availability of federal matching dollars, considering federal authorization, the federal cost-share percentage, and the status of the funding award.
2. The storm damage reduction benefits of the project based on the following considerations:
a. The current condition of the project area, including any recent storm damage impact, as a percentage of volume of sand lost since the most recent beach nourishment event or most recent beach surveys. If the project area has not been previously restored, the department must use the historical background erosion rate;
b. The overall potential threat to existing upland development, including public and private structures and infrastructure, based on the percentage of vulnerable shoreline that exists within the project boundaries; and
c. The value of upland property benefiting from the protection provided by the project and its subsequent maintenance. A property must be within one-quarter mile of the project boundaries to be considered under the criterion specified in this sub-subparagraph.
3. The cost-effectiveness of the project based on the yearly cost per volume per mile of proposed beach fill placement. The department shall also consider the following when assessing cost-effectiveness pursuant to this subparagraph:
a. The existence of projects with proposed structural or design components that could extend the beach nourishment interval;
b. Existing beach nourishment projects that reduce upland storm damage costs by incorporating new or enhanced dune structures or new or existing dune restoration and revegetation projects;
c. Proposed innovative technologies designed to reduce project costs; and
d. Regional sediment management strategies and coordination to conserve sand source resources and reduce project costs.
(c) Tier 3 must account for 20 percent of the total score and consist of all of the following criteria:
1. Previous state commitment and involvement in the project, considering previously funded phases, the total amount of previous state funding, and previous partial appropriations for the proposed project.
2. The recreational benefits of the project based on:
a. The accessible beach area added by the project; and
b. The percentage of linear footage within the project boundaries which is zoned:
(I) As recreational or open space;
(II) For commercial use; or
(III) To otherwise allow for public lodging establishments.
3. The extent to which the project mitigates the adverse impact of improved, modified, or altered inlets on adjacent beaches.
4. The degree to which the project addresses the state’s most significant beach erosion problems as a function of the linear footage of the project shoreline and the cubic yards of sand placed per mile per year.
(d) Tier 4 must account for 15 percent of the total score and consist of all of the following criteria:
1. Increased prioritization of projects that have been on the department’s ranked project list for successive years and that have not previously secured state funding for project implementation.
2. Environmental habitat enhancement, recognizing state or federal critical habitat areas for threatened or endangered species which may be subject to extensive shoreline armoring, or recognizing areas where extensive shoreline armoring threatens the availability or quality of habitat for such species. Turtle-friendly designs, dune and vegetation projects for areas with redesigned or reduced fill templates, proposed incorporation of best management practices and adaptive management strategies to protect resources, and innovative technologies designed to benefit critical habitat preservation may also be considered.
3. The overall readiness of the project to proceed in a timely manner, considering the project’s readiness for the construction phase of development, the status of required permits, the status of any needed easement acquisition, the availability of local funding sources, and the establishment of an erosion control line. If the department identifies specific reasonable and documented concerns that the project will not proceed in a timely manner, the department may choose not to include the project in the annual funding priorities submitted to the Legislature.
If more than one project qualifies equally under the provisions of this subsection, the department shall assign funding priority to those projects shown to be most ready to proceed.