SANIBEL, Fla. — Lee County Commissioners are asking the state for help in fighting erosion at a popular beach on Sanibel Island, near Captiva.
Blind Pass Beach was first closed back in June due to safety concerns, and on Tuesday, the Lee County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution asking the state for funds to go towards fixing that erosion.
The resolution, passed Tuesday, asks for $230,000 to be included in the state budget.
It's required by Florida's Department of Environmental Protection, in order for Lee County to apply for grant funding for beach nourishment and inlet management projects.
Applications to FDEP must be accompanied by a BoCC resolution and are competitively reviewed and ranked by FDEP.
Then the ranked list is submitted to the State Legislature for consideration as part of the state budget process.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s closed but I think most people are being respectful of it," says Melissa Hatten, a Southwest Florida resident who calls Blind Pass Beach one of her favorite local beaches.
“When one of the best places to shell is closed, that’s definitely a little frustrating," she adds.
The county has to ensure that required county matching funds are available when needed for projects. Lee County uses Tourist Development Tax funds. A percentage of those funds has to go toward beaches and shoreline projects annually.
That type of funding isn't new - Lee County has been applying for and receiving state funding for beach renourishment and related projects on an annual basis since 1997.
But Ranger Rob Howell, a Southwest Florida naturalist, believes that they are short-term fixes to long-term problems.
“The fixes that are going to be long-term fixes are having dunes, having mangrove trees," he says. “These types of natural things are what’s going to solve it.”
Blind Pass is not managed for navigation. It is dredged for benefits related to coastal and environmental purposes.
The last time it was dredged was in June 2017, when 89,700 cubic yards of sand were removed at a cost of $1.3 million. The sand was placed on Sanibel Island to offset beach erosion.