All posts by Joe Moreland

ECA Welcomes New Board Member

ECA Welcomes Mac Hatcher to Board James “Mac” Hatcher

HatcherThe Estuary Conservation Association has announced the selection of James “Mac” Hatcher to the Board of Directors. Mac received his academic training in Fisheries Science at California State University in 1973. He recently retired from Collier County where he worked with the Environmental Services section most recently on the Watershed Management Plan. He worked 27 years for the county on environmental issues (water quality, rural development standards) and 11 years for Deltona in their water quality lab on Marco Island. His interests include kayaking and fishing inshore waters, and gardening. Mac is looking forward to working on environmental projects in the Cocohatchee estuary with his colleagues in ECA.

ECA July Wiggins Pass Estuary Report

Members and Friends of ECA,

We who remain in Florida, are Happy, but Awash in H2O. Wiggins Pass is proving its RECENTLY COMPLETED REDEMPTION and remains a joy to the eyes of those WHO remained to WATCH HER! Now as to facts and fiction! As to Facts, dredging equipment has withdrawn from the pass having completed all rock removal in the new channel. Weather has caused substantial delay in the final progress, hence the contractor will return to do spot repairs and install permanent Channel Markers. May I emphasize that it has been NATURE and not Man who deserves blame for delays. As to fiction, there have been a number of rumors that BULL SHARKS have arrived to inhabit the Wiggins Estuary. Well here are the facts as best I know them ! I solicited by mass email for eyewitness testimony of sightings. No actual sightings were reported. In consultation with “Professional Shark Scientist’s” it was explained that Bull Sharks, have always been present in estuary waters for the purpose of “breeding”. This being so, they suggest that to the extent there are sharks present, they always could have been, and perhaps their presence is now noticed due to clear water; increased availability of food and unidentified people taking in the view of our now scenic waters. ECA WILL KEEP YOU ADVISED !

Success without the “S”

Naples Daily News
Article in Naples Daily News

Joe Moreland
President, Estuary Conservation Association (ECA)
I am delighted to be writing about the outstanding conclusion of the effort to straighten the Wiggins Pass channel.
I am motivated to do so by the letter published April 26, by C. Louis Bassano. He reminded me that there are probably many other county residents who are unaware that the very things he recommended have already occurred.
About five years ago, the Collier County Office of Coastal Zone Management, headed by Gary McAlpin, began an effort to provide safe navigation for boats in Wiggins Pass, reduce the cost of channel maintenance and increase the flow of water throughout the Cocohatchee Estuary. They were assisted by the ECA, a nonprofit organization charged by the state with monitoring, preserving and enhancing of the Wiggins Pass estuary waters, the Pelican Isle Yacht Club and environmental groups such as the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
After much effort, representatives of these organizations plus the engineering firm of Coastal Planning & Engineering agreed on a new approach for Wiggins Pass that would straighten the channel rather than trying to maintain the existing “S” curve. This redesign required and obtained the approval of over 20 federal, state and local entities such as the Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Fish and Wildlife.
The Collier County commissioners gave final approval for the $1.7 million project in February with the funding coming from the tourist tax. By mid-March, Oren Engineering of Tampa started work and was to be finished in early May.
With the straightening of the pass, it is anticipated by county staff, the Corps of Engineers and the project engineers that it will need dredging about every four years compared to the old “S” curve which needed dredging about every 18 months. The straight channel will allow for increased water flow which will keep sand from accumulating in the channel and improve water quality throughout the estuary.
Additionally, the delays that occurred in the past while dredging permits were being obtained have been eliminated. The County now has a 10 year permit which will allow any necessary dredging to be done when needed.
The success of this project reflects the best in coordination and cooperation between governmental entities, volunteer organizations and individual citizens who are all dedicated to preserving and enhancing the environment.

ECA Guardian Boat Gets New Upgrade

Pelican Isle Yacht Club Purchases New Outboard Engine to Power ECA Vessel

Pelican Isle Yacht Club has donated a 25 horsepower four stroke Mercury outboard engine for ECA’s Guardian vessel, used by ECA members and volunteers to conduct soundings of Wiggins Pass inlet and to conduct research and monitoring of environmental conditions within the Cocohatchee estuary. The new engine enhances ECA’s ability to advance it’s mission of conserving the Cocohatchee estuary and supporting safe navigation of Wiggins Pass. For more information, see

ECA Guardian Boat Gets New Upgrade

Pelican Isle Yacht Club Purchases New Outboard Engine to Power ECA Vessel

The Guardian
The Guardian

Pelican Isle Yacht Club has donated a 25 horsepower four stroke Mercury outboard engine for ECA’s Guardian vessel, used by ECA members and volunteers to conduct soundings of Wiggins Pass inlet and to conduct research and monitoring of environmental conditions within the Cocohatchee estuary. The new engine enhances ECA’s ability to advance its mission of conserving the Cocohatchee estuary and supporting safe navigation of Wiggins Pass. The ECA sincerely thanks Pelican Isle Yacht Club for this donation.

ECA Conducts Boat Tours of Cocohatchee Estuary

 Over 60 Coastal Managers from Across Florida Participate in Field Trips to Discuss Inlet Management




ECA President Joe Moreland and Biologist from Coastal Planning and Engineering discuss details of plans to manage the Wiggins Pass Inlet.

Over 60 beach and coastal managers from across Florida and other coastal states participated in two boat field trips on the Cocohatchee estuary on Thursday, September 27, to review and discuss plans for managing the navigational channel for Wiggins Pass. The Estuary Conservation Association worked in partnership with Collier County’s Coastal Zone Management Department, Pelican Isle Yacht Club, and Tarpon Cove Tours to conduct the field trips as part of the Florida Beach Preservation Association’s annual conference being held in Naples. Participants included state and local legislators and county officials interested in learning about the project.

ECA Hosting Boat Tour of Cocohatchee Estuary and Wiggins Pass

Coastal and beach managers from across Florida to participate in guided field trip on September 27.


Working in collaboration with Collier County’s Coastal Zone Management Department, the Estuary Conservation Association (ECA) will be providing two guided boat trips of the Cocohatchee estuary and Wiggins Pass on Thursday, September 27 for coastal managers participating in the 56th Annual Conference of the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association. 

The boat trips will provide participants with a first-hand view of the pristine inshore waters of the estuary, and an imporatnt opportunity to learn about adaptive management strategies employed by Collier County Coastal Zone Management staff to address issues involving the management of the inlet at Wiggins Pass. 

Pelican Isle Yacht Club is participating as a local sponsor.

Funding Approved for Re-Nourishment Project

We very pleased to report to you that the Collier County Board of Commissioners has approved funding for the Wiggins Pass Dredging and Re Nourishment Project. They voted three to two for the awarding of $6,798,820 for County wide beach and Pass Maintenance projects, of which Wiggins Pass is one.

The Florida DEP has notified the County that they intend to issue the necessary Permit once the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signs off on the project (the last hurdle). The DEP should publicly issue their “Intent To Issue” by Sept 9th; then the 21-day public notice, then the Permit can be finally issued. Hence the scheduled goal is to have the DEP permit in hand no later than the first week in October.
Collier County Office of Coastal Zone Management, plans to combine South Marco, dredging and beach fill with Wiggins Pass straightening in order to realize a savings on the order of $250K via reduction of mobilization and demobilization costs of equipment.
Marco South would begin dredging on November 1, 2012 and be completed by December 31 and then move to Wiggins Pass and complete the work by May 1, 2013. It is intended that navigation will be possible throughout the project.
At long last we stand at the threshold of success. Your Continued Support is Needed.