Brown, Sandy Beaches

By: Mike Tolbert
By: Mike Tolbert

John Wilson and his family have enjoyed the white, sandy beaches in Walton County for the past four years, but Hurricane Ivan washed away much of the sand and the foundations of many homes and buildings.

To keep them from collapsing, construction crews have brought in new sand that's a light brown, which has angered residents like Joe DeGrigorio.

"I rent my place about 40 percent of the year and I think my rentals will drop and my property values will drop, and I'm unhappy about it," he says.

County officials say the Department of Environmental Protection has currently limited scraping sand off the beaches, so it’s had to be brought in. Also, the cost of white sand has gone up significantly compared to brown sand, but officials maintain that crews will eventually top the sand off with white sand. Even so, opinions are mixed on the beach.

Joe DeGregorio says, "If the beach color isn't the same as it used to be, why come to Destin? You can go to just about any other beach in Florida and get the same kind of sand. I think it’s unique in the Panhandle to have sugary, white sand."

Jim Bishop from Indiana adds, "Well, I guess if you come down here under normal conditions you'd expect that, but given what you see and the devastation, I think anything you can do to shore up these buildings is probably a good idea right now."

County officials say they will do their best to make sure the sand in Walton County always looks white. Of the 26 miles of shoreline, Walton County officials say they're using the light brown sand on only a couple thousand cubic yards of the beach.


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