From the Naples Daily News 9/20/15:
Commodore Tom Marmen wrote a letter to Pelican Isle members who do not belong to ECA. The letter is below
Dear Fellow Members,
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Pelican Isle Yacht Club (PIYC), I would like to bring something very important to your attention – particularly to our newer members. We are so fortunate to be located on the Cocohatchee River, close to Wiggins Pass. However, as our long time members are aware, clean waters and a navigable pass are not a “given” but something that requires constant attention and significant political involvement by our members. By having navigable water, we ensure our Yacht Club will continue to grow.
The only organization monitoring the health of the Cocohatchee estuary and Wiggins Pass is the Estuary Conservation Association, Inc. (ECA). The ECA is a state chartered, non-profit organization which monitors water quality, navigation through the pass and the overall health of the flora and fauna in the estuary. The ECA works closely with Collier County government including the Board of County Commissioners and the Office of Coastal Zone Management and played a key part in the five year process to redesign and enhance the Pass. Each year, the ECA sponsors a public series of educational “Gulf Forums” on a variety of water related topics. Having attended some of the forums, I can highly recommend them. Their plans for the future include enhancing the recreational use of the estuary and increasing the fish and shellfish populations by building new oyster reefs.
There’s a financial aspect to these activities as well. We’re all co-owners of the Club and many of us have slips or own condominiums within or near the estuary. If this beautiful area isn’t kept pristine and if the Wiggins Pass became un-navigable, the value of all the adjacent property will decline.
The ECA conducts its annual membership drive at this time each year and copy of their membership application is available by downloading: ECA Membership Application 2015 . For your convenience, you may drop off your completed form and check with the PIYC receptionist. Thank you for your support.
I encourage you to join the ECA and participate in and support this organization. A significant number of our Club members already belong and I would like to see that portion become 100%. To learn more about the ECA, their website is www.estuaryconservation.org.
Thank you for your consideration.
Oyster Reef Restoration Project
Research ECA provided funding to Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) scientists to conduct investigations of environmental conditions within the Cocohatchee estuary, to guide site selection for the restoration of oyster reefs. FGCU has successfully restored living reefs in similar estuaries in Southwest Florida. The benefits of restoring reefs are well documented, including improved water clarity due to filter feeding of living oysters, and providing exceptional refuge for marine animals such as stone crabs, shrimp, and inshore fish.
Restoration ECA is now working with Matt Wright, an Eagle Scout candidate in Naples, and local Troop 2 of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), to support and sponsor a small-scale oyster reef restoration project within the Cocohatchee estuary, utilizing FGCU’s research results obtained from ECA’s sponsored study described above.
The restoration project involves three phases:
Barron Collier Jr. Foundation
THE HALSTATT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION
Florida Gulf Coast University
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Collier County Coastal Zone Management Department
Conservancy of SW Florida
Boy Scouts Troop 2 Naples
Vi at Bentley Village
Coastal Angler Magazine
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:
The Estuary Conservation Association proudly announces the welcome addition of Alan Ritchie to the Board of Directors. Alan is a former Vice President of General Mills, Inc. in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is a Director Emeritus of the 170,000 member Experimental Aircraft Association. Alan enjoys boating and fishing, and is a licensed pilot.
He is a past chairman and currently a member of the Pelican Isle Yacht Club’s Marina Committee, and has agreed to serve as chairman of ECA’s Boating and Navigation Committee. Alan has been married to his wife Jane for 46 years, and has two children and three grandchildren.
The 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.
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 !
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.