• Removal of Asphalt Debris Continues at National Seashore with Excavation of Remnant Lot at Opal Beac

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    January 08, 2021
    Gulf Islands National Seashore News Release 

    Release Date: January 08, 2021 
    Contact:  Ashley Warren, Ashley_Warren@nps.gov, 850-232-3640 
    Removal of Asphalt Debris Continues at National Seashore with Excavation of Remnant Lot at Opal Beach 
    GULF BREEZE, FL. – The fall-winter 2020-21 season for the onsite cleanup of asphalt fragments and road base materials began at the Gulf Islands National Seashore on November 06, 2020. Between November 16 and December 4, 2020, approximately 1,020 cubic yards of asphalt and other miscellaneous non-natural debris was removed from 2.5 linear miles of the tidal zone at Fort Pickens. Work resumed at Santa Rosa on January 5th, 2021 where equipment is removing a 0.25-acre remnant asphalt lot and road base materials just north of Parking Lot 34E at Opal Beach. Equipment will also dig test trenches and pits in areas where asphalt debris from damaged roads was piled following Hurricane Ivan in 2004. These trenches and pits will determine the size of the piles and help us design the scope for future asphalt removal projects. The asphalt debris fields to be investigated are near parking lots 32A, 33A, and 34A in Santa Rosa and parking lot 19A in Fort Pickens. Work is estimated to take 2-3 weeks. 
    Opal Beach and Hwy 399 through the Santa Rosa Unit are currently closed to visitors and traffic for clean-up and repair of damages sustained during Hurricanes Sally and Zeta. Should Santa Rosa reopen for through traffic and/or visitor use prior to the completion of the lot removal and debris field investigations, this should only cause minor impacts to visitor parking and traffic flow in the particular area of activities. Visitors may also be impacted by small closures to facilitate this work. These closures will be temporary and confined to discrete areas. Any effects on visitor use will occur between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, depending on weather conditions. Work on holidays is expected to be minimal but may occur if significant weather delays are experienced.  
    The asphalt debris removal project is needed because roadway debris has accumulated for more than 20 years following hurricanes and storms that destroyed and scattered portions of the park’s asphalt roads. “Cleanup of the debris piled up over decades of storms is an ongoing process, which the National Park Service is committed to completing as thoroughly as possible. As wind and erosion reveals additional asphalt and debris, areas require multiple treatments,” stated Deputy Superintendent Steven McCoy.  Since project commencement in September 2015, the park has removed road debris and asphalt from over 500 acres from the Fort Pickens, Santa Rosa, and Perdido Key areas. This project will improve visitor experience of these areas. This multi-year project will also culminate in native plant installation to mitigate for any damage to vegetation caused by the asphalt removal. 
    The Beach Enhancement and Asphalt Removal Project is a Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Early Restoration project that is being paid for with funds provided by BP as part of a 2015 settlement agreement with federal, state and local governments. NRDA projects compensate the public for injuries to natural resources and the loss of the services they provide, such as recreational use.  
    More information about other Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment restoration projects can be found at the Trustees’ web site: www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov
    About Gulf Islands National Seashore:  Created in 1971, the national seashore stretches 160 miles along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida and Mississippi, and includes barrier islands, maritime forests, historic forts, bayous, and marine habitat. Visit us at www.nps.gov/GulfIslands, on Facebook www.facebook.com/GulfIslandsNPS, Twitter www.twitter.com/GulfIslandsNPS, and Instagram www.Instagram.com/GulfIslandsNPS
    About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.