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Cape Coral leaders say canals will be cleared of debris by Spring

Residents say wildlife habitats are being destroyed in the process.
cape coral canal debris cleanup
Posted at 4:22 PM, Feb 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-03 06:54:00-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Thursday, Cape Coral leaders promised debris cleanup in canals would be complete by April 28.

The process started on November 7, 2022, and has caused concerned residents to speak out during a Cape Coral Water Advisory Board meeting on Thursday.

“I know it wasn't the intent to destroy wildlife and wildlife habitat but that's what's happening,” said one concerned homeowner.

Michael Ilczyszyn, Cape Coral's Public Works Director, said removing the over 380,000 cubic yards of debris from canals is essential and permitted by law.

“We have the right by law by owning that encumbrance for individuals lots to service those canals,” said Ilczyszyn.

A service that the same concerned resident claimed was destroying habitats for animals such as Gopher Tortoises.

“Do I need to get out there with no trespassing signs to keep bulldozers from crossing our lots with Gopher Tortoises to do this,” she said.

Cape Coral’s Solid Waste Manager Terry Schweitzer said bulldozers are not used for canal cleanup, adding that city environmentalists go out before each project, which he says ensures that no animals are harmed.

“They immediately notify the crew before they start work to maintain a 25-foot buffer around the Gopher Tortoises just like we would if it was any other type of development so there is that pre-type staging,” said Schweitzer.

All pieces to a puzzle where Schweitzer said state funding dictates that debris cleanup needs to be finished by April 28.

A deadline the city said they will meet, and while Ilczyszyn said contracted crews must remove vegetation to access the canals, it's part of the recovery process.

“It's habitat loss but it's part of the recovery activities that we have, and they are permitted they are inspected they are monitored, and they cost our reimbursement,” said Ilczyszyn.