Three new beach projects starting this summer in Lee County
FORT MYERS – Lee County is launching three beach nourishment projects this summer thanks in part to federal funding that came early to the county because of last summer’s Tropical Storm Debby.
Among the projects:
Captiva and northern Sanibel: 6.4 miles of beaches from Redfish Pass to Bowman’s Beach will be nourished. Local partner Captiva Erosion Prevention District will work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Lee County Natural Resources. Federal and state dollars will cover about 50 percent of the project $21 million cost. Work is expected to begin in early August and be completed by year’s end.
Gasparilla Island / Boca Grande: 3.1 miles of shoreline from 17th Street to Boca Grande Pass will be nourished. The Corps, DEP and Lee County Natural Resources will handle the $10.5 million project, with 79 percent of the funding coming from the state and federal government. Work is expected to span Labor Day to Thanksgiving.
Lover’s Key and Bonita Beach: A mile at Bonita Beach and a mile at Lover’s Key State Park will be put under the same project, which is being done by the DEP, Lee County and the City of Bonita Springs. Combining projects is estimated to save taxpayers $1 million; total cost will be about $5.2 million, with work starting in September and ending in early 2014.
The three new projects were in the planning phase when in June 2012 Tropical Storm Debby brought storm surge and high waves to Lee County’s shoreline for three days. It caused extensive damage to dunes and the high-beach area. Documentation of the impact was used to expedite project schedules and justify increased federal and state funding.
Additionally, a $1 million Blind Pass project has just been completed. The pass straddles the north end of Sanibel and south tip of Captiva and was dredged for environmental purposes. The dredged sand was used to nourish a half mile of critically eroded shoreline on northern Sanibel. DEP and Lee County handled the project, with nearly 20 percent of funds coming from the state.
Taking care of its beaches is a priority for Lee County, which has 4.7 million visitors a year. Nourishment projects such as these ensure the beauty of the beaches, as well as their environmental health for protected species such as sea turtles and nesting shorebirds.