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Captiva’s survival and success

By Staff | Nov 24, 2009

To the editor,

As the Chairman of the Captiva Erosion Prevention District (CEPD), I’m delighted and proud to share with Fort Myers Beach Captiva’s incredible experience with beach nourishment.

In the mid-1980s, Captiva was wracked with controversy over the issues of beach erosion and possible solutions. The community was more than just divided, the highly contentious experience is referred to as “The Sand Wars.” In many areas, Captiva’s beach looked more like a rock revetment than a sandy beach.

There was a severe erosion problem and an even more severe controversy over what to do. Yet, once the 1988-89 nourishment project was done, Captiva was transformed. Three years prior (1985), the total property value of Captiva was $224 million and three years after (1992), the values were $442 million.

I own a beach home built in the early ’70s. Today, the property is worth 25 times what it was worth in 1985. With a moderate investment over the last 25 years, the house is substantially the same house while perhaps 10 percent larger and reasonably modernized. The beach dunes are slightly more vegetated.

Some important facts:

1 – Beach nourishment works, but does need to be maintained. Since the late ’80s, Captiva has done two additional nourishments. The environment, natural habitats, homes, businesses, roads and the overall community are well protected. The famous cartoonist “Ding” Darling once said, “Ducks can’t build nests on fences”; I like to say, “Turtles can’t build nests on rocks.”

2 – Beaches and dunes do more than just enhance the quality of beach life, they act as “surge protectors” protecting roads, homes and businesses. Simply put, they sacrifice themselves for areas landward of the beaches and dunes. Important vegetation can be done in ways that preserve privacy visibility, habitats and contribute in a very big way to sand retention.

3 – To enable CEPD’s beach program, property owners had to sign easements and Captiva had no problems doing that once we came together. The contractors onsite were excellent. They were careful with existing vegetation and structures like rock revetments. We still use many of them.

4 – Because a nourished beach is considered infrastructure, FEMA helped pay to restore the portion Captiva lost to storms like Hurricane Charley.

5 – The total value of Captiva was worth $224 million in 1985 and is now worth $1.5 billion in 2009, almost a seven-fold increase in just values.

While other factors also contribute, beach nourishment turned the tide and made a major difference to Captiva’s survival and success. We would likely never have survived Hurricane Charley without the beach and dunes. We are very proud of Captiva’s beach and the CEPD beach program.

You are welcome to visit a CEPD meeting on Dec. 9 at noon, or simply contact us via e-mail for location, directions or questions: mycepd3@gmail.com.

We love showing off our dunes and beach vegetation, but most importantly Captiva’s beautiful beach.

Mike Mullins

Chairman, CEPD