Water-Related News

Lee County bed tax may be used to fund shoreline restoration

Manatee Park’s picturesque kayak dock and launch weathered Hurricane Irma nicely.

However, another perfect storm of events frustrated paddlers this winter at the east Lee County Park that’s renowned as a magnet for manatee-watchers.

Silt and sediment — some possibly from Irma — clogged the blissfully shady canal that links the kayak launch to the nearby Orange River. At low tide the canal was barely accessible, said Alise Flanjack, deputy director for Lee County Parks & Recreation.

“Currently at full moons, the right wind direction and low tides can make the launch area inaccessible,” Flanjack said.

Fortunately, a more primitive launch area directly on the river is available. But with up to 150 paddle craft launching there daily during peak winter tourist season, park leaders pondered long-term solutions.

They think they’ve found one through the county’s beach and shoreline assistance program.

It's a Lee County ordinance: More than one-quarter of every bed tax dollar must go to beach preservation and maintenance — and selected coastal capital improvement projects — if the money is there.

This year the money is plentiful, thanks to a tourism season that could break records and estimates of decent lodgings occupancy even in the slower months.