Two Lee County beaches will soon be transformed during renourishment projects at Bonita Beach and Lovers Key State Park.
Heavy equipment is expected to be on Bonita Beach starting Wednesday, June 25, with work beginning June 30 and proceeding north to south for about five weeks.
The estimated start date for Lovers Key is August 1, with work completed by late September and two dredgers working simultaneously from both ends toward the middle. A portion of Little Hickory Island Beach Park will close for the last three weeks of the Bonita Beach project, resulting in a reduction in available visitor parking. Beach access will still be available to Bonita Beach as well as Lovers Key during construction for all areas except for a 500-foot zone where sand is being actively placed.
The projects consist of adding sand to 0.8 miles of Bonita Beach and 1.1 miles of Lovers Key Beach. These new projects include the renourishment of about 9,800 total linear feet of beach, which requires about 401,000 cubic yards of sand that will come from two permitted borrow areas adjacent to Big Carlos Pass. Using off-shore sites for sand means there will be no trucking involved in the Bonita Beach or Lovers Key projects. Turtle monitors will move nests that are laid in the path of the beach equipment as it moves down the beach.
The project is being done by Lee County with additional funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the City of Bonita Springs. Combining projects is estimated to have saved taxpayers $1 million; total cost will be about $5 million.
The projects were in the planning phase when in June 2012 Tropical Storm Debby brought storm surge and high waves to Lee County’s shoreline for three days. It caused extensive damage to dunes and the high-beach area.
“Taking care of its beaches is a priority for Lee County, which has 4.8 million visitors a year,” said Lee County Commission Chairman Larry Kiker, who also chairs the county’s Tourist Development Council. “Renourishment projects such as these ensure the beauty of the beaches, as well as their environmental health for protected species such as sea turtles and nesting shorebirds.”
Press Release, June 23, 2014