GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — Big machines are on Gulf Shores’ beaches moving sand in a restoration project that will eventually stretch to Orange Beach.

“It’s quite a process they got going on,” says Cindy Norling, who is visiting from Minnesota, “pulling the sand in, pushing it out.”

Dredge barges sit just off the coast of Gulf Shores pumping tons of sand on shore near the 900 block of West Beach.

“The ships go get the sand from a mile out or whatever and they pump it in with a bunch of seawater,” said Marty Ross, watching from the beach. “It’s just interesting the process they use. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

It is a renourishment project that will help remedy beach erosion that has taken place since Hurricane Nate hit the Gulf Coast in 2017.

Ross has a place on West Beach and has seen what the wind and waves have done over the years.

“It used to be rather large and now we have about half the beach that we used to.”

This isn’t just cosmetic, though; Grant Brown, with the city of Gulf Shores, says the beaches serve an important role.

“It’s a natural environment protection, the best way to protect and really the only way to protect the infrastructure and creates the amenity beaches that people have known Gulf Shores for years.”

Not only is more sand being pumped back onto the beach, sand dunes will be repaired and half a million sea oats planted to stabilize the dune system that has all but disappeared in places.

A week into the project, crews are working around the clock in hopes of being finished with the beaches in Gulf Shores by the end of the year.

Then, they will move east to beaches in Gulf State Park and Orange Beach.