Salt, sun and sand are all key elements in what makes Collier County’s beaches beautiful and why tourists like Pete Patitsas keep coming back.
“We’ve been soaking it up, getting our vitamin D,” he said.
That’s why the county is using his and other tourists’ money to contribute to the cost of a dredging project is currently underway for Turkey Bay, Wiggins Channel and Caxambas Pass that will replenish the sand on the county’s coastline.
Crews plan to begin dredging at Wiggins Channel then proceed to Turkey Bay and finish up at Caxambas Pass.
The $2.35 million project is expected to be completed in Spring 2020.
The sand dredged from Wiggins Channel and Turkey Bay will be pumped to the nearshore (tidal zone) south of Barefoot Beach to help replenish eroded sand.
Sand dredged from Caxambas Pass will be placed in the upland area on South Marco Beach to help replenish that area.
Crews are expected to work around the clock to complete the project as quickly as possible.
Beachgoers we talked to agree over $2 million is a lot of money, but for our beaches, it’s worth it.
“People are here for the beaches,” said Patitsas. “Whatever it takes to keep that maintained and serving the tourist base that comes down here.”
Perhaps those most likely to benefit from the project are homeowners near the Vanderbilt Waterway.
“Those are the folks that have actually stepped up and have approved a special municipal taxing unit,” said President of the Estuary Conservation Association, Alan Ritchie.
That will pay for the work near Turkey Bay. The county says those traveling through Wiggins Channel will have to add extra time to their trip, but the benefits of the project are well worth it, especially for our water.
“It increases the tidal flow into these dead canals and that helps the water quality a great deal,” Ritchie said.
There is also a plan to request partial reimbursement for the Wiggins Channel and Caxambas Pass work through the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection’s Local Government Funding Program.