Collier County dredging project begins to protect beaches, boaters

Published: January 26, 2022 3:59 PM EST
Updated: January 26, 2022 4:11 PM EST

A project is underway in Collier County to help make the area safer for boaters, and the beaches nicer for visitors. It is the Wiggins Pass dredging project, which happens on a 4-year cycle.

Crews were out on the water on Wednesday, preparing for the dredging project. The project helps protect the Collier County beaches that keep visitors coming back.

The beaches are among the most essential Collier County selling points.

Marcia Berk, visiting from Ohio, said, “beaches is what Florida is all about. We come down because of the beaches.”

Berk and her family spend the winter in Collier County to escape the cold and the snow of the north each year.

Berk’s daughter, Stacey Smith, said the dredging is necessary and is glad the county invests in this project.

“I think due to erosion and climate change and different weather patterns, there’s been a lot of disappearing beaches, and it’s sad for the world and the planet,” said Smith.

For the next few days, pipes will be lined up along the beach. The pipes will take sand from the inlet channel and pump it back where it belongs.

Andy Miller, the county’s coastal zone manager, said it is a cycle that re-nourishes the beaches, maintains the inlets, and helps boaters navigate more easily.

“Pretty much like clockwork right when we were up on our four-year major dredge cycle, the pass has stilled into the point where boaters have had a little bit of an issue coming in and out even at high tide,” said Miller.

Miller explained they keep an eye on the condition of Wiggins Pass. They conduct annual monitoring surveys and dredge when needed, despite the cost.

The $2 million for the dredging project comes from tourist development tax dollars and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Work will move to Doctors after the dredging is complete at Wiggins Pass.

Crews hope to wrap the Wiggins Pass dredging in about 40 days.