- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) - Business owners on St. Simons Island say the beach has receded in recent months, prompting some concerns about tourism.

Sustained winds from a spring storm washed out some of the beach between the old Coast Guard Station and the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, they say.

The storm - with its prolonged winds over several days - set the island back by about five years of beach buildup, business owners told The Brunswick News (bit.ly/1OBOzFV).

When storms wipe away part of the beach, it typically leads to discussion about beach management, said Scott McQuade, director of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Every time this event occurs there is discussion in the community about a beach management plan, which currently we do not have,” McQuade said. “We have been fortunate the last several years that the beach has been growing.”

Michael Johnson, general manager of the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort said that from his days in the Jacksonville Beach, Florida area, he has seen how effective renourishment can be when paired with a comprehensive beach management plan.

Tybee Island, for example, has a beach plan including regular beach renourishment, among other things, but many don’t think that is a suitable option for the Golden Isles’ beaches.

Opponents say renourishment or structures built to prevent erosion interfere with the natural processes of wave action and tidal forces.

Dale Provenzano, the Glynn County Commissioner who represents St. Simons, Sea and Jekyll Islands, said the public was not in favor of the idea when it was previously discussed.

“Glynn County went through that in 1992 and again in 2004, and it was not a very popular idea,” Provenzano said. “If the citizens would like a beach management plan, I would hope that they would contact their commissioners and tell them.”

McQuade wonders what the recent erosion will mean during this coming summer tourism season.

“My biggest concern is knowing how many people are heading to the Golden Isles for what will be a very busy season,” McQuade said. “What I’m afraid people will find is that they will have a problem finding a place to park themselves on the beach.”

Kris Maichle, general manager of Hodnett Cooper on St. Simons Island, said some residents of The Grand and Beach Club condominiums have asked about the erosion.

“Some of our individual unit owners have expressed concern and asked if there’s an overall plan,” Maichle said. “We’re also hearing it from the property owners that are residents and taxpayers asking ‘What do we do? How do we manage this?’”

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