Destin Dune Restoration

Plant Materials Program

City of Destin sign

2004 was not a good year for Destin beaches and the people who make their livelihood from them. Hurricane Ivan and subsequent storms have eroded the beaches to record levels. NRCS is helping out by planting sea oats and other plants developed by the Plant Materials Center in Brooksville, Florida.

Chuck Meister

In Their Words:

 Chuck Meister, P.E., City Engineer, City of Destin, Florida:

beach scene

“Destin used to be called a sleepy little fishing village. Now we are known for our beaches. We have 6.2 miles of beautiful white sand and aqua marine water.”

newspaper headlines on hurricane

“Ivan was almost a direct hit just west of here. The tidal surge and wave action eroded the dunes.”

sand dune

“Revegitation of dunes is a critical factor in the restoration process. Sea Oats form roots that can grow to 25 feet. They hold the dunes together.”

Philip Lofe

Philip Lofe, General Manager of Jetty East Resort Complex:

planting sea oats

“The 2004 hurricane season was one of the most active ones in Destin’s history. It destroyed much of the infrastructure of the exterior of the property. The tidal surge devastated our beaches.” “We must renourish the beaches, rebuild the berm and dune line and replant the sea oats.”

sea oat root

“The technology that the Plant Materials Center provides is very important. We are very comfortable that John Hovanesian, who plants our sea oats, has the best plants available because he uses sea oats developed by NRCS at the Plant Materials Center here in Florida.”

dune fencing

“I am hopeful that if the storms will just stay away from Destin for a couple of years that the sea oats can take hold and protect our dunes.”

John Hovanesian

John Hovanesian, President, Coastal and Native Plant Specialties (CNPS):

Plant Materials Program logo
“All of the plants that we use to restore the dunes are developed by the Plant Materials Center. With the information from the Plant Materials Center commercial growers like myself can use them freely and gain profits from them.”

Chuck Meister, Engineer, inspecting dune

“In the past, coastal erosion has been solved using constructed features such as sea walls. Now, many engineers feel that a plant material such as sea oats is the answer. ”

sea turtle nest warning sign

“Turtle mating season here mandates that no construction activity be allowed on the dunes between May 1 and October 1, which is the heart of the hurricane season. If it weren't for planting sea oats we would not be able to protect the dunes at all.”


Darryl Williams, DC (left), and John Hovanesian

“When I need help I go to the experts at NRCS. Darryl Williams is the District Conservationist here and he advises me on the value of a project before I commit to doing it.”


Stephen Hill

Stephen Hill, Owner of Holiday Isle Beach Service:

“When you plant sea oats the dunes get bigger and bigger. We had sea oats here a hundred yards wide until Opal but nothing will stand up to a direct hit from a hurricane.”

For more information go to the Florida Plant Materials Center (PMC) website.