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The History of the Sebastian Inlet

In 1872, Captain David P. Gibson promoted a movement to dig an inlet on a strip of barrier island near present day Sebastian Inlet. At that time, the barrier island at the site of the proposed cut was approximately 260 feet wide. Six efforts to open the inlet took place from 1901 to 1915 with sand washing into the inlet as soon as it was excavated. In 1905 a figure arrived in Brevard County whose name is synonymous with the Sebastian Inlet, Roy O. Couch. Mr. Couch invested a great deal of his own money and raised money from private individuals and formed the Sebastian Inlet Association. With Mr. Couch's persistent lobbying with the legislature and the Army Corps of Engineers and the formation of the Sebastian Inlet Association, a permit was finally issued by the War Department in April of 1918 and the seventh effort to open the inlet began. The permit expired in December of 1918, giving the dredgers a very short time frame to complete the work. The impossible time frame in which to accomplish the work led Mr. Couch and several other prominent businessmen to Tallahassee to push through a bill for the land that surrounded the inlet to be encompassed into a local taxing district. In 1919 the Florida Legislature created the Sebastian Inlet District.

In 1924, the Sebastian Inlet was opened at its current location and small jetties were completed.

In 1939, Approximately 72,000 cubic yards of sediment are removed from the inlet at a cost of $6,000.

In 1941 the Inlet closed due to a northeaster. For safety reasons, it was left closed during World War II, then permanently blasted open in 1947 and has remained open since.

1950's - Throughout the 1950's, several maintenance dredging projects were completed to deepen and widen the inlet channel. New construction extended both the north and south jetties.

1960's - The Back Bay navigation channel is dredged and the inlet sand trap is excavated to capture sand that would otherwise cause shoaling.

1970's - North and South jetties are extended further, the sand trap is blasted deeper and sand is dredged and placed on the downdrift beach to counter erosion.

1980's - Several dredging events occurred placing over 200,00 cubic yards of sand on the south beach. Sand is stockpiled on Coconut Point and truck hauled to the beach.

1990's - In addition to maintenance dredging events, taking sand from the inlet trap and channel and placing on the downdrift beach, a number of studies and monitoring projects were conducted at the inlet. Engineering assessments of jetties, geotechnical evaluation of sand trap and shoals, and biological studies focusing on sea turtles, seagrass and reefs were conducted. Over 800,000 cubic yards of sand were placed on the downdrift beaches. State permit received in 1996 for dredging the navigation channel extension to the ICW, however, Federal permits denied due to presence of protected seagrass.

2000's - Over 300,000 cubic yards of sand placed on downdrift beaches. Major renovation of North jetty completed with elevated concrete cap, handrails and grate system. Jetties survived 2004 and 2005 hurricanes without significant damage. Navigation channel temporarily reoriented to southwest with buoy channel markers due to shoaling at west end of channel. Permanent piling markers placed in inlet throat to better define channel and manatee slow speed zone. State and Federal Permits received to dredge the connection from the Inlet to the ICW. Dredging completed and navigation markers installed July, 2007.

2010 - In 2010 the District partnered with Indian River County to renourish the beaches south of the inlet. The Indian River County project placed 267,182 cubic yards of sand from upland sand mines starting approximately 5 miles south of the inlet to north of John's Island. The District contributed $4,184,070.12 toward the project and gained 3 years of sand credit in Phase I of the project.

2012 - In 2012 the District dredged its Sand Trap, extracting 122,000 cubic yards of beach quality sand. The sand was placed on the beach south of the inlet between R-4 and R-9.

On October 26, 2012 the eye of Hurricane Sandy passed within 200 miles of the Sebastian Inlet. Twenty to thirty foot waves offshore produced over ten foot breaking waves on local beaches causing moderate to major dune erosion. On December 12, 2012 the District received authorization through Indian River County (as agent of the State) for emergency dune repair between beach markers R-8 to R-17. The District emptied 16,614 cubic yards of sand from its DMMA and placed 18,000 cubic yards of sand from an upland sand source for a total of 34,614 cubic yards of beach quality sand to repair the dune erosion. The project was completed by the end of February 2013.

2014 - In 2014, Orion Marine Group out of Tampa, FL, was awarded a bid for the sand trap dredging, excavation and expansion project. Over 111,000 cubic yards of beach quality sand was removed from the sand trap and placed on the south beaches prior to May 1, 2014. After May 1st, nearly 50,000 cubic yards of coquina rock and sand were dredged from the bottom of the sand trap to gain more capacity and create a more uniform trap. This material was placed in the Districtís Dredged Material Management Area (DMMA). Work began in December to separate the rock and sand within the DMMA and is expected to be completed in early 2015. The rock will be used by the Sebastian Inlet State Park for road and parking area stabilization and other projects, while part of the sand (25,000 cubic yards) will be placed on the south beaches to restore the dune and beach system. The District plans to supplement the project with upland sand purchased from a local sand mine to achieve a 50,000 cubic yard project. Approximately 25,000 cubic yards will be kept in a stockpile in the DMMA for emergency fill. The newly expanded and deepened trap may take longer to fill with sand, extending the period for when a dredge will be returning to the area (3 to 5 years).

We invite you to learn more by touring the interactive timeline feature below. Enjoy a decade by decade history of the Sebastian Inlet.

Interactive Timeline (Click on the dates below for visuals and description.)

1918 1922 1923 1925 1926 1933 1940 1944 1947 1948 1948 1950's 1960's 1970's 1980's 1990's 2000's 2010's

© 2004-2015 Sebastian Inlet District Commission ∑ 114 Sixth Avenue ∑ Indialantic, Florida 32903