Published: Mar 30, 2012 8:56 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 03, 2012 11:35 PM EDT

ISLES OF CAPRI, Fla.- Collier County leaders and local conservationists have turned trash into treasure.

An old dumping site is the home of the new Paddle Creek Park at Capri and Collier Boulevards in Isles of Capri.

Those behind the project cut the ribbon on the kayak and canoe launching area Friday.

The intersection was originally zoned for a hotel and marina, but environmentalists with Rookery Bay Reserve stepped in 3 years ago to reclaim the area.

"Part of the reason we felt this was more appropriate is that Rookery Bay Reserve is a very delicate ecosystem and it's relatively pristine wilderness here," environmental manager Randy McCormick said.

Isles of Capri homeowners who turned out for the ribbon cutting are pleased with the park.

Valerie Walsh has been watching the project since the beginning.  She didn't like the original idea of development at the intersection.

"It's basically a very quiet home place.  It's not vacation paradise for vacation people partying and all that," Walsh said.

The total cost of the project is around $4 million, most of which was paid for by the state of Florida.

During the excavation process, it was discovered that the area near the mangroves was used as a trash dumping site by residents in the 1960's.

Collier County leaders stepped in to help with the work.  The park will also be managed by the county's Parks and Recreation Department.

County manager, Leo Ochs, is hopeful it will boost the equi-tourism industry, a growing sector of the local economy.

"This is a facility that obviously won't only benefit the full-time residents of Collier County, but will certainly be an attraction to the many people who want to come here and visit that like to get outdoors," Ochs said.

The park is the only public access facility in Collier Counry designated exclusively for launching paddle crafts. 

It also has a fresh water rinse station, two covered picnic pavillions, and restrooms.

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