USA: Wiggins Pass Beach and Channel Ready for Visitors
All dredging requiring sand placement or interface with Wiggins Pass Beach was completed by May 1 as required by permit to avoid turtle nesting season.
A total of 94,000 cubic yards of materials have been placed or removed during the $1,754,000 pass maintenance project conducted by contractor Orion Marine Construction. Dredging activity included straightening the Wiggins Pass S-shaped channel.
During dredging, an unexpected 2,000 to 4,000 cubic yards of hard-packed material, including rock fragments and consolidated shells, was encountered. Removal of this material is continuing for approximately two more weeks with excavation using a backhoe and barge. The hard material will be disposed of in a former borrow area about two miles off shore.
Despite being peak tourist season, the schedule mandated by permit was for beach work to be conducted during the two months prior to turtle nesting season.
In the past 20 years, Wiggins Pass has been dredged 13 times and needs repeat work more often since it has been refilling with sand with increased frequency. Historically, the pass has been dredged every two years but recent trends have the channel filling in every 18 months to un-navigable conditions. In addition to unsafe boating conditions, Barefoot Beach and the mangrove channel to the north have experienced significant erosion.
Press Release, May 22, 2013