The Sunshine State's 663 miles of coastline are more than just a tourist attraction and economic driver, protecting coastlines from severe weather.
For decades, Florida has been replenishing beaches with offshore sand vacuumed up from the ocean floor, but now, officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say even the offshore sand is running out.
Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are facing such a dangerous shortage they are considering replenishing beach sand with recycled, crushed glass.
"These beaches, people think they are recreational, but they are storm damage reduction,” said Jason Harrah, the Army Corps project manager in charge of the Miami-Dade beach restoration. “They are meant to sacrifice themselves for the loss of property or life."
The artificial glass sand could be purchased from mines in Central Florida or the Caribbean.
But not all local beachgoers were convinced by a jar of the fake sand, saying they'd rather see a solution to preserve beaches naturally.
Looking on the bright side, others thought the greenish luster of the crushed glass could actually make the beaches look nicer. Longtime residents remember that beach sand before offshore replenishment was more colorful.
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UPI Almanac for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014