West Ship Island's north beach is set to be rebuilt beginning next month to help stabilize the island and mitigate erosion, the U.S. National Park Service announced yesterday (July 18).

The work, set to begin Aug. 1 and be completed by the end of October, also will provide protection to Fort Massachusetts, the agency reported. The historic site is in danger of damage from encroaching waters.

Sand for the project will be taken from the old abandoned Gulfport navigation channel. A systematic and careful review has been undertaken as part of the planning process to ensure that all sand placed is compatible to existing island sand, including grain size, texture and color. It is expected that, in time, the sand placed on the beach will be indistinguishable from the sand already there.

Dredges will be used to remove sand from the borrow area and pump it onto shore through 16-inch pipes. The pipes will place a slurry of sand and water on the beach, where bulldozers and other construction equipment will move the material and shape the shoreline.

As part of the project, the rip rap and other foreign materials located to the north of the fort will be removed.

During the project a turbidity barrier, consisting of woven geotextile sheets stretching from a floating tube on the surface to a sand-filled anchoring tube on the sea floor, will be in place around submerged aquatic vegetation beds to protect that vegetation from sediments that might otherwise enter this critical habitat during construction.

The turbidity barrier will be erected prior to construction and remain in place 60 days after project completion.

For public safety purposes, there will be fencing and personnel on site to restrict access in the project area to authorized personnel only. Public access will not be allowed in work areas.

However, the pier, fort, concessions and south beach will remain open for visitors during this time.