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SAVED BY SAND: New Estero Island berm to protect against flooding & help turtles

The North Estero Berm Project will be paid for by a $1.89 million grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Posted at 10:13 PM, Apr 18, 2024

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Right now, you'll find a giant mound of sand on Estero Island.

The North Estero Berm Project will be paid for by a $1.89 million grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. It will fill the shoreline with sand from Bowditch Point Park to Crescent Park.

"The beach on the north side of Estero hasn't gotten any sand since Hurricane Ian," Chadd Chustz, the Environmental Project Manager said.

Collier County's Stewart Mine is supplying about 50,000 tons of sand to raise the beach's elevation, prevent flooding as severe as Ian's, and help turtles hatch. Chustz says it's proven well on other areas of Fort Myers Beach.

"We saw that it worked and we want to protect the island as much as we can with the funding we have," he said.

Sue Kissell is one who enjoys Estero Island, but she wishes the money was spent a different way.

"I think considering they're trying to rebuild from Ian, they could have done better with their money than the sand," she said.

A year and a half since the storm, she says street lighting should be top of mind.

"I know a lot of the side streets don't have street names up, and I get it, they want to build up the sand, but all it takes is one more storm and the sand just goes right back out," she said.

While the area was hit hard by Ian and Idalia, Chustz says the Town of Fort Myers Beach has seen berms prove effective in the past. The project is intended to finish in early May.