Protected mangroves in the Cocohatchee River possibly hurt by nearby construction

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Paul Dolan
Cocohachee River
Construction near the Cocohatchee River may be harming protected mangroves. (CREDIT: WINK News)

The Collier County Waterkeeper is worried about trees off of the Cocohatchee River in North Naples, while an investigation is underway into new construction possibly hurting protected mangroves.

There won’t be any construction on the Cocohachee River on Tuesday, or until inspectors understand exactly what harm could have been done to the mangroves along the river.

A concerned advocate said it’s his job to protect the waterways and that means keeping an eye on development.

cocohatchee river
A shot of the Cocohatchee River in North Naples. (CREDIT: WINK News)

All it took was looking over a fence off U.S. 41 in North Naples for K.C. Schulberg, the Collier County Waterkeeper, to know something wasn’t right.

“I saw some mangrove stumps,” Schulberg said.

“That’s why this issue kind of concerned me that there might be some impropriety some kind of abuse going on,” Schulberg said.

Getting a closer look, Schulberg began to wade into the swampy area to get a closer look.

“We don’t have anything against restaurants hotels developers but they have to be monitored they have to we have to make sure that they are following the regulations,” Schulberg said.

Schulberg suspects that Marino Construction Group, the company that’s building The Perry Hotel Naples, is cutting corners. The Perry Hotel Naples is getting built on the Cocohatchee River a little north of Immokalee Road next to the mangroves. Those mangroves are important because they protect Southwest Floridians from storm surges and keep harmful nutrients out of the waterways.

“I’m not saying that there was any abuse but we have to get to the bottom of it you know if it was unintentional that may be fine if it was intentional in order to enlarge the building footprint that’s not good,” Schulberg said.

cocohatchee river
An area near the Cocohatchee River mangrove stumps are seen. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Schulberg proceeded to report the construction group to the South Florida Water Management District. The water management organization investigated the report the week of Sept. 12, which prompted a statement from spokesman Jason Schultz.

“Staff found that construction started without the standard, required pre-construction meeting and staking and roping inspection of the conservation easement line. As a result, construction was halted at the site,” Schultz said.

Workers with the South Florida Water Management District returned on Tuesday to the construction site to make sure the development stays where it should, away from protected mangroves.

WINK News reached out to Marino Construction Group and The Perry Hotel based in Key West, however, we have not heard back.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.