The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday gave Collier County a 10-year permit that will allow the county to perform maintenance dredging in the Clam Bay Natural Resource Protection Area.
The permit will allow the county to remove sand from Clam Pass and associated flood shoal areas in three sections to restore tidal flow to the estuary. It is anticipated about 19,000 cubic yards of sand would be removed from Clam Pass and the flood shoal areas.
Recent record rainfall in Southwest Florida and the slow narrowing of Clam Pass has put the mangrove forests in Clam Bay at risk and Collier County was hoping the Corps would approve the permit to avoid further environmental harm to the Clam Bay Natural Resource Protection Area.
The Pelican Bay Services Division submitted its 10-year permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on February 12, 2015. Commissioner Georgia Hiller, whose district includes Clam Pass, met with staff members from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington D.C. on February 25, 2016, and that same day secured both a verbal and written commitment that the permit would be issued.
According to the county staff, it is imperative to commence dredging operations as soon as possible to improve drainage and restore the balance within the Clam Bay Natural Resource Protection Area.
On March 22, staff will ask commissioners to approve a recommendation that declares emergency conditions exist in the Clam Bay Natural Resource Protection Area and ratify staff’s actions to quickly mobilize a dredging firm to prevent a widespread mangrove “die-off.”
The hope is that dredging can commence and be completed by the time sea turtle nesting season begins on May 1.