|Published:||Jun 18, 2012 11:11 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Jun 18, 2012 11:56 PM EDT|
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Sand is filling in portions of the channel of Blind Pass, between Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Lee County says something needs to be done, and today, is starting a large dredging project to increase water flow to the area.
From boats hovering in the waters off Sanibel and Captiva, to large equipment parked on the beach, it's easy to see the dredging of Blind Pass is in full swing.
Florida Dredge and Dock finished the restoration of Fort Myers Beach and is now beginning the dredging process for Blind Pass. "The sand has a way of working north and south in this area, and builds up in the mouth and the pass," said Michael Stephenson, with Coastal Engineering Consultants, Inc.
This hasn't happened since 2009, when Blind Pass was dredged for roughly 2.5 million dollars. This year's project cost about $830,000.
"The county money is coming from bed tax revenues. The funding from the state of Florida is coming from a grant," said Steve Boutelle, with Lee County's Natural Resources Division.
The county admits dredging will have to be repeated over the years, but says it's a process that has the least amount of impact. "There are other more drastic engineering solutions like putting another structure on Sanibel but their codes are pretty strict," said Boutelle.
One of the the biggest challenges of this project doesn't have anything to do with equipment, but with wildlife. Crews have to make sure they don't disturb the nesting turtles or birds. "It's being inspected daily," said Stephenson.
Crews will remove an estimated 120,000 cubic yards of sand which will be placed near Bowman's Beach a little farther down the island.
Some tourists don't like the sight of equipment on the beach. "You see working equipment out there and its not pleasant, you know?" said tourist Edward Dillion.
Others say it needs to be done. "We need to restore the habitat and keep the beaches beautiful," said tourist LuAnn Lutz.
Weather permitting, the project will wrap up in August. The project will run seven days a week, 24 hours a day. During certain phases of the work, portions of parking and the bridge will be closed to the public.
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