The official opening of the Isles of Capri Paddle Craft Park was held this week. The park is located at the corner of 951 and Isles of Capri Boulevard. The park is a joint effort between the State of Florida, Collier County Parks and Recreation and Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve.
On hand for the ribbon cutting were Gary Lytton, the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Director, Greg Munson, DEP Deputy Secretary of Water Policy and Environmental Restoration, Leo Ochs, Collier County Manager, Donna Fiala, Collier County Commissioner, Randy McCormick RBNERR Assistant Manager and Project Lead. Bringing the park to life was a multi-agency effort and each speaker was appreciative of the role other departments had performed. Several kayaks lined theramp and Rookery Bay guides, including Sarah Falkowski, were on hand to take interested guests out on a paddle.
It was years in the making, staff at Rookery Bay proposed restoration plans, obtained permits, planted mangroves, cleaned up the site and laid the foundation for the new park. The park features a ramp, fresh water rinse off, a staging area, two covered picnic pavilions and restroom facilities.
The park makes the McIlvane and Johnson Bays accessible to non-motorized vessels such as canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. The shallow, mangrove lined waterway is ideal for wildlife viewing. The park is open from sunrise to sunset. The launch fee is only $4.00, less than originally anticipated. The park, under an agreement with Collier County Parks and Recreation, will be managed by Rookery Bay.