The Wiggins Pass Celebration on Saturday, October 26 was a great success with over 180 people attending and speeches by ECA President Joe Moreland, Collier County Chairwoman Georgia Hiller and Naples Mayor John Sorey.
Please click the link below to watch a video of the event created by Pelican Isle Yacht Club Member George Rubin:
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 As to Facts, dredging equipment has withdrawn from the pass having completed all rock removal in the new channel.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 !
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.