Loggerhead sea turtles, nesting shorebirds and assorted marine life will become collateral damage from the Marco Central beach hydraulic dredging project just getting started at Hideaway Beach. As dredging starts, female loggerhead turtles are navigating their way into our beaches this month through the end of October.
Project Detail: At its March 21st meeting, the Marco Island City Council voted 5-2 to approve the Hideaway erosion control project and award the contract to Gator Dredging. They will dredge approximately 40,000 cubic yards of beach compatible sand from the Hideaway Beach Near Borrow Area to improve navigation along the south bank of Big Marco Pass and restore tidal flushing to thelagoon extending to the Tigertail Beach area. The sand will be placed on two shoreline segments; 10,000 cubic yards of sand for each end of Hideaway Beach, and 30,000 cubic yards of sand to Marco’s Central Beach to correct the frequent problem of pooling and puddling.
Important Note: The 30,000 cubic yards of sand is being donated by Hideaway Beach. They had a choice on whether to dump this sand elsewhere or help with Marco Central Beach’s puddling issue. (Similar to the Marriott donating 7,500 cubic yards of sand to Marco’s Central Beach.)
Estimated Time of Completion: Gator Dredging project supervisor, Keith Ayres, stated they will “do everything by the book”to make sure there is minimal harm to the sea turtles and nesting shorebirds. An environmental consultant has been hired and a marine biologist from Audubon, Florida will be walking the beach to make daily observation.
An off-shore 40’x50’ sectional barge will contain the hydraulic dredging and pumping equipment using a high pressure suction. Dredged sand will travel through 22,000 feet (4.2 miles) of submerged pipes under the river headed to the gulf side of Sand Dollar Island and will be deposited on a fill site on Marco’s Central Beach (just north of Residents Beach). Pumped sand will be dispersed with a deflector blade into a pile where it willbe spread out by bulldozers and graders.
The operation is 24/7 until the project is complete. At the area north of Residents Beach, there will be pumping, engine noises, bulldozers, graders, bright lights and workers on the site. Completion date at this time is uncertain.
Funding: No cost from this project will be paid by the general funds of the City of Marco Island. Funding will come from Hideaway Beach Tax District.
It is the nature of beaches to be in a constant state of accretion and erosion.
The following additional dredging projects are scheduled for Marco Island beaches for 2016-2017:
Dredging of Collier Creek: This project will follow the Hideaway and Marco CentralBeach dredging. Using the same contractor and equipment will result in savings to Collier County.
South Marco Island Beach re-grading project: About 13,000 cubic yards will be placed on South Beach to correct erosion.
Marco Central Beach will need approximately 170,000 cubic yards of sand. 135,000 cubic yards will come from the intertidal zone of Marco Central Beach and 30,000 cubic yards will come from the Hideaway Borrow Area.
Marriott donated 7,500 cubic yards of sand, of which, 3,000 cubic yards was delivered, leaving a balance of 4,500 cubic yards of sand.
How can you help? Be involved in conservation efforts for the loggerhead sea turtle, shorebirds and your beaches. Keep your eyesopen, and if you see a wildlife law violation, report it to the FWC by calling 888-404-FWCC or by texting Tip@MyFWC.com. If you see a sea turtle in trouble immediately call the FWC, or locally, Mary Nelson at 239-289-9736. Let your voices be heard – be an informed voter and elect candidates who value Marco Island’s unique island ecosystem just as much as they value economic growth.
Marco’s crown jewel: A wide pristine beach provides a critical storm buffer to the condominiums and beachfront businesses and an ideal recreation area for residents and visitors. Let’s make sure Marco Island continues to be a top island destination while minimizing any negative ecological impact from these dredging activities.