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Meaningful mitigation standards

By Staff | Jul 7, 2010

To the editor,

I would like to offer a solution to the ban on boat docks in the Bay Beach Zone of Sanibel.

At the last Planning Commission meeting, Sanibel’s Natural Resource manager said that allowing boat docks to be constructed within the Bay Beach Zone would put additional stresses on the sea grasses. I assume his reasoning is that the dock platform and walkway built the traditional way using pressure treated lumber would prevent sunlight from reaching the sea grasses, causing the grass to die. I agree.

Instead, let’s allow the light reach the sea grasses by the use of open mesh metal decking such as that used on gangplanks of ships and highway bridge decks. Although I have no scientific evidence, I would bet  that open mesh grating would allow enough sunlight through to support growth of the sea grass. I challenge the manager to prove otherwise. 

Next, the manager told the commission that building docks along the shoreline would diminish the diversity of marine life. I assume his reasoning is that harm will come to marine life from using pressure treated lumber, again, the traditional material for dock building which as we all should know, leaches poisonous chemicals into the water over a very long period of time. Instead of putting this poison in our waters, lets use precast concrete or concrete filled PVC pipe for pilings. I am not an expert here, but I believe that when oysters and barnacles grow on pilings, micro eco-systems are created around the pilings that provide a significant link in the local marine food chain. Barnacles and oysters that grow on pilings promote healthy marine ecosystems by filtering many of the toxic substances we humans put into the water. 

Could it be that the net effect of building a dock using the correct materials and methods would have a positive effect on the marine environment? It is obvious that the process of jetting in pilings does some damage to the seafloor, and for this damage we need to put in place some meaningful mitigation standards.


If the argument for not lifting the ban is that the additional number of boats on the water would add to our carbon footprint, then let’s be fair and spread the blame to all Sanibel boaters. We can all do our own part in helping the environment by making the little sacrifices that really won’t change our lives very much. Do we really need 200 hp to go to Cabbage Key for lunch or could we make do with 50 hp and enjoy the scenery along the way.


I have a hunch that some Sanibel residents simply don’t want any new boat docks because they’re ugly and they detract from the character of Sanibel. I think so, too. The only dock I think is good looking is the one in my own back yard in Dinkins Bayou. Glad I already have it!


Don Bishop