Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association is holding its 60th Annual Conference September 27-29, 2017 at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. This year Thaddeus “Thad” Hamilton has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association’s Prestigious Environmental Award. The Environmental Award is presented to Mr. Hamilton for his significant contribution to the environment with beach preservation, his decades long charge to revegetate coastal dunes throughout Broward County, the State of Florida, and to educate the public about the importance of vegetated dunes.
Mr. Hamilton is one of the foremost experts in the state of Florida in the field of coastal revegetation. He worked for 36 years with the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Services (USDA-NRCS). Mr. Hamilton has always felt that the beaches and surrounding coastal environments are of great economic and environmental importance. He understands that coastal erosion is a very serious problem. Beginning in 1980 under his leadership and direct action, an innovative coastal re-vegetation program was developed in Bro-ward County Florida. This program led to the development of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) that are used throughout the State of Florida and the United States to stabilize coastal beaches and to reduce beach erosion.
These BMPs have enabled the Broward Soil and Water Conservation District (BSWCD) and USDA-NRCS to grow coastal plants at an accelerated rate. Under this program coastal dune re-vegetation projects were created, and in 5 months the sea oats had grown development would normally take 4 to 5 years. Over the years the value of the coastal re-vegetation projects is estimated to be tens of millions of dollars per year.
In 1984 Mr. Hamilton established the first beach re-vegetation project in the city of Fort Lauderdale at 16th Street. This project raised the elevation of the Fort Lauderdale beach and the area in front of the planting by approximately 4 to 6 feet. In 2002, Mr. Hamilton along with BSWCD, the District Service provider/ project manager Mr. Russell M. Setti, and the Florida Department of Transportation secured the funds to re-vegetate one mile of the Fort Lauderdale beach. This planting raised the elevation of Ft. Lauderdale beach by 3 to 4 feet. In 2011 this same dune system saved the City of Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, and the State of Florida over $20 million in storm surge damages. The clean up behind where the sea oats were planted consisted of one man with a grass blower. This is compared to the unprotected beach areas costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Under the leadership of Mr. Hamilton and the use of the BMPs that he helped developed, he is responsible for approximately 90% of the re-vegetated sand dunes in Broward County. These re-vegetated sand dunes have saved hundreds of thousands cubic yards of sand which created sand dunes and coastal wildlife habitat. This also led to Mr. Hamilton being able to educate thousands of volunteers, students, scouts, and organizations on the beaches of Hallandale, Hollywood, Diana, Ft. Lauderdale, John U Lloyd State Park, Pompano, Golden, and Lauderdale-by-the-sea. Re-vegetation projects have also been established on condominiums such as Cloisters, Sea Ranch Lakes, Ever April, Claridge, Ocean Harbor Condo, and Renaissance 11 just to name a few.