Currently, our restoration efforts are focused in several areas in
Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton Counties in the Florida
panhandle. Specifically, restoration projects have occured on Perdido
Key, Santa Rosa Island, and Topsail Hill State Preserve. Plants collected
from these areas are kept segregated at the FDEP nursery which allows us
to return plants collected from one area back to the same area in an
effort to maintain the genetic integrity of restoration sites. Plant
material is collected from local beaches and then propagated by seed
germination, rooting cuttings, and plant divisions. Propagating off
material collected from the restoration site allows us to multiply our
plant numbers and do restoration plantings with plants collected from the
restoration area even when collection material is limited. This is
especially important in the case of our coastal dune systems where recent
hurricanes have limited the amount of plant material present.
Whenever possible, people should use walkovers when crossing a dune
field. Foot traffic in dunes tramples vegetation and causes erosion over
time. This effect, coupled with a strong tidal surge from tropical
storms, can result in the creation of blowouts in the dune system.
Rushing water washes away sand along the weakened trail areas created by
foot traffic, thus eventually creating blowouts which ultimately
compromise the protective structure of the dune system. As a result,
storm surges are allowed to move past the dune field and into once
protected areas including neighborhoods, roadways, and wildlife habitat.
Numerous blowouts can be found at Topsail Hill State Preserve which
suffered several blowouts when Hurricane Ivan barreled ashore in September
The restoration at Topsail Hill Preserve Park consists of restoring the eroded path that
leads to the top of Topsail Hill, one of the tallest dunes systems in the
Panhandle. Once restored, visitors will be able to use the new observation
boardwalk to view one of the most incredible overlooks on the Gulf Coast
without causing damage to the ancient dune system.