GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — Baldwin County’s beaches are not only beautiful, but they are also a buffer zone for storms coming in from the Gulf of Mexico. Building back the beaches is the only way to make sure that first line of defense is there when it’s needed.

During the winter months, the beaches are quiet and a perfect time for a re-nourishment project that would pump tons of sand back onto shore.

“These sand dunes and beach play an important and significant role in protection and hazard mitigation,” said the city of Gulf Shores spokesman Grant Brown.

Originally planned for the Fall and Winter of 2022, the city of Orange Beach, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Gulf Shores have all been working together and waiting on environmental permits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We were notified by FEMA that it looks like it could be up to three months before they would issue that permit,” said Brown.

If that happens, the project will be pushed back another year. This time starting in the Fall of 2023 and that makes a lot of folks nervous.

“That is our first line of defense for storms and so potentially could become an issue,” said Brown.

A final decision could happen as soon as next week for a project that isn’t just about beaches, but public safety too.