(1) The Legislature recognizes that beach erosion is a statewide problem that does not confine its effects to local governmental jurisdictions and that beach erosion can be adequately addressed most efficiently by a state-initiated program of beach restoration and beach nourishment. However, since local beach communities derive the primary benefits from the presence of adequate beaches, a program of beach restoration and beach nourishment should not be accomplished without a commitment of local funds to combat the problem of beach erosion. Accordingly, the Legislature declares that the state, through the department, shall determine those beaches which are critically eroded and in need of restoration and nourishment and may authorize appropriations to pay up to 75 percent of the actual costs for restoring and nourishing a critically eroded beach. The local government in which the beach is located shall be responsible for the balance of such costs.
(2) To carry out the beach and shore preservation programs, the department is hereby constituted as the beach and shore preservation authority for the state. In this capacity, the secretary of the department may at his or her own initiative take all necessary steps as soon as practicable and desirable to implement the provisions of this chapter.
(3) Whenever a beach erosion control project has been authorized by Congress for federal financial participation in accordance with any Act of Congress relating to beach erosion control in which nonfederal participation is required, it shall be the policy of the state to assist with an equitable share of such funds to the extent that funds are available, as determined by the department.
(4) The department, for itself or on behalf of any and all duly established beach and shore preservation districts and local governments within the state, may enter into cooperative agreements and otherwise cooperate with, and meet the requirements and conditions (including, but not limited to, execution of indemnification agreements) of, federal, state, and other local governments and political entities, or any agencies or representatives thereof, for the purpose of improving, furthering, and expediting the beach management program.
(5) The department is authorized, for and on behalf of the state, to accept such federal moneys for beach erosion control as are available and to sign all necessary agreements therefor and to do and perform all necessary acts in connection therewith to effectuate the intent and purposes of this act.
(6) The department is authorized to make application for federal participation in the cost of any beach and shore preservation project under any Acts of Congress and all amendments thereto.
(7) The department is authorized to implement regional components of the beach management plan pursuant to ss. 161.091 and 161.161 and, where appropriate, to enter into agreements with the Federal Government, inlet districts, port authorities, intercoastal waterway districts, and local governments to cost-share and coordinate such activity. (8) The department is authorized to sponsor or cosponsor demonstration projects of new or innovative technologies which have the potential to reduce project costs, conserve beach quality sand, extend the life of beach nourishment projects, and improve inlet sand bypassing pursuant to s. 161.091.
(9)(a) Because improved, modified, or altered inlets are a significant cause of beach erosion, it is the Legislature’s intent to manage the erosive impacts of inlets under the state’s beach management program. Accordingly, it is the further intent of the Legislature for the state to cost-share those components of inlet projects that minimize the erosive effects of the inlet or cost-effectively provide for the placement of beach-quality material on adjacent eroded beaches.
(b) The department is authorized to enter into cooperative agreements with local governments, including cities, counties, and special districts, for inlet management activities and to cost-share those components of inlet projects that minimize the erosive effects of the inlet or cost-effectively provide for the placement of beach-quality material on adjacent eroded beaches.
(10) The department is authorized to pay up to 100 percent of the costs of approved beach erosion control projects when construction and maintenance are on lands of which the state is the upland riparian owner.
(11) With regard to a project approved in accordance with s. 161.161, the department is authorized to pay from legislative appropriations specifically provided for these purposes an amount up to 75 percent of the costs of contractual services, including, but not limited to, the costs for:
(a) Feasibility and related planning studies.
(d) Monitoring. The state shall cost-share in all biological and physical monitoring requirements which are based upon scientifically based criteria.
(12) A project, in order to receive state funds, shall provide for adequate public access, protect natural resources, and provide protection for endangered and threatened species.
(13) The department shall not fund projects that provide only recreational benefits. All funded activities must have an identifiable beach erosion control or beach preservation benefit directed toward maintaining or enhancing sand in the system. Activities ineligible for cost-sharing include, but are not limited to:
(a) Recreational structures such as piers, decks, and boardwalks.
(b) Park activities and facilities except for erosion control.
(c) Aesthetic vegetation.
(d) Water quality components of stormwater management systems.
(e) Experimental or demonstration projects unless favorably peer reviewed or scientifically documented.
(f) Hard structures unless designed for erosion control or to enhance beach nourishment project longevity or bypassing performance.
(g) Operations and maintenance, with the exception of nourishment.
(h) Maintenance and repair of over-walks.
(i) Navigation construction, operation, and maintenance activities, except those elements whose purpose is to place or keep sand on adjacent beaches.
(14) The intent of the Legislature in preserving and protecting Florida’s sandy beaches pursuant to this act is to direct beach erosion control appropriations to the state’s most severely eroded beaches, and to prevent further adverse impact caused by improved, modified, or altered inlets, coastal armoring, or existing upland development. In establishing annual project funding priorities, the department shall seek formal input from local coastal governments, beach and general government interest groups, and university experts. Criteria to be considered by the department in determining annual funding priorities shall include:
(a) The severity of erosion conditions, the threat to existing upland development, and recreational and/or economic benefits.
(b) The availability of federal matching dollars.
(c) The extent of local government sponsor financial and administrative commitment to the project, including a long-term financial plan with a designated funding source or sources for initial construction and periodic maintenance.
(d) Previous state commitment and involvement in the project.
(e) The anticipated physical performance of the proposed project, including the frequency of periodic planned nourishment.
(f) The extent to which the proposed project mitigates the adverse impact of improved, modified, or altered inlets on adjacent beaches.
(g) Innovative, cost-effective, and environmentally sensitive applications to reduce erosion.
(h) Projects that provide enhanced habitat within or adjacent to designated refuges of nesting sea turtles.
(i) The extent to which local or regional sponsors of beach erosion control projects agree to coordinate the planning, design, and construction of their projects to take advantage of identifiable cost savings.
(j) The degree to which the project addresses the state’s most significant beach erosion problems.
In the event that more than one project qualifies equally under the provisions of this subsection, the department shall assign funding priority to those projects that are ready to proceed.
(15) Until the unmet demand for repairing Florida’s damaged beaches and dunes is satisfied, it is the further intent of the Legislature to cost-share such projects equally between the state and local sponsors.
(16) In order to encourage regional approaches that provide cost savings, and notwithstanding subsection (15), actual cost savings that can be documented as resulting from geographic coordination and sequencing of two or more discrete erosion control projects shall proportionally reduce each local sponsor’s cost share as long as the state financial participation does not exceed 75 percent.
(17) The selection of a project engineer acceptable to the department by local government as project sponsor shall be on the basis of competitive negotiation as provided in chapter 287. The project sponsor shall assume full responsibility for all project costs in excess of the state cost limitation.
(18) A local government desiring to initiate and pay the entire cost of designing, constructing, and maintaining an erosion control project prior to the state’s initiating such construction may be reimbursed from state funds on the basis of the procedures set forth in s. 161.161, provided the project is approved by the department before initiation of construction and based on legislative appropriations and whether it furthers the provisions of s. 161.161. Such local interests shall, as project sponsor, be responsible for obtaining federal reimbursement in the case of federal-aid projects. (19) Twenty-five percent of any funds appropriated for implementation of this section shall be held by the department until the last quarter of the fiscal year for which the appropriation is made. This amount shall be used to meet emergencies prescribed in s. 161.111. If no such emergencies occur, then these funds may be released in the last quarter of the fiscal year in which the appropriation is made for projects.
(20) The department shall maintain a current project listing and may, in its discretion and dependent upon the availability of local resources and changes in the criteria listed in subsection (14), revise the project listing.
(21) The department may adopt rules to implement this section.