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BEFORE AND AFTER: Sanibel beach re-nourishment project nears completion

Posted at 10:56 PM, Apr 26, 2024

SANIBEL, Fla. — Lighthouse Beach Park in Sanibel is set to reopen temporarily for the weekend, just before the start of turtle nesting season.

The project will be put on hold during the nesting season, which lasts from May 1 until Nov. 1. This pause will allow visitors full access to the beach, preventing the recent disappointment of turning around upon arrival.

Joyce Kuehl, a visitor who traveled over two hours only to find the beach closed, expressed her frustration.

"Absolutely, we're very disappointed," Kuehl said.

The renourishment effort is almost complete, with nearly 400,000 tons of sand already laid from Lighthouse Park to Bowman's Beach. Before-and-after photos captured in January and again on Friday shows considerable improvements, with many gullies that had standing water now filled.

This restoration goes beyond fixing damage from Hurricane Ian — it also compensates for erosion caused by this year's weather events.

Approximately 75,000 tons of sand remain to be placed to complete the $22 million project, once work resumes.

Your Sanibel Community Correspondent Anvaar Ruziev spoke with visitors at Gulf Side City Park Beach about the new sand.

"The sand was phenomenal, we took a little nap," said Jenna Hess, who was vacationing on Sanibel.

Elin Mastrangelo, a resident of Cape Coral, was surprised by the quick progress.

"I think they did a great job, it's nice to see the beach is restored," Mastrangelo said. "We thought it would be a decade before we saw the beach look like this again."

As the weekend approaches, people can once again enjoy the newly nourished sands of Lighthouse Beach Park. However, the park will close again on Monday until May 1.