The federal government approved a plan to renourish the beaches on Gasparilla Island in Lee County in 1965. Now, more than 40 years later the project is finally getting underway.
Under an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal government will reimburse Lee County for sixty percent of the project’s cost – estimated at 8.5 million dollars. About 3 miles of beach will be restored. Nancy Hamilton of the Visitor and Convention Bureau says it’s a good investment.
“The number one reason people cite coming to lee county is because of our pristine beautiful beaches. another thing is it helps protect those barrier islands during the storm season. what we’ve learned from hurricane charley and Wilma and the storms that have gone by us is if you have this barrier of sand it helps protect what’s there.”
Beaches also provide habitat for nesting sea turtles and shorebirds. Enough sand will be pumped from Boca Grande Pass to the beach to create a buffer of about 150 feet. The project is scheduled to get underway in October.
Environmental officials from Lee County met with members of the Army Corps of Engineers Wednesday to sign off on an agreement to renourish Boca Grande’s barrier island beach. The federal government first approved the project in 1965 – but Lee County did not have the dollars to devote to it. That’s changed and Lee County’s Coastal Engineer Robert Neal says the renourishment is long overdue.
“In some places on the beach there is no sand at high water – the water comes up to the seawalls so we see that as a very direct threat – especially during a storm event to the upland property”
Lee County officials and the federal government will share the 8-and-a-half-million dollar cost to pump sand from Boca Grande Pass onto the beach. The project is to begin in October. The county is also negotiating to restore sand to Estero Island’s beaches.
Thursday, 27 April 2006 01:00
Beach RenourishmentWritten by WGCU Newsroom