BPA updates islanders on status of Blind Pass
Blind Pass remains open almost two years after the dredging event of 2009. A maintenance dredge within the next year remains under consideration. Lee County awaits the Biological Opinion, which is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and actually done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We expect this to be completed no later than Sept. 14, which is necessary for the maintenance permit. There will be dredges working in the Fort Myers Beach vicinity this fall and winter, so a Blind Pass maintenance event could take advantage of the economies of equipment already on hand.
The decision to call for a maintenance dredge is, unfortunately, not cut-and-dried. The volume of flow is much reduced and, as all of us who regularly monitor the Pass know, shoaling on the Gulf side has made much of the opening wadeable at low tide. Still, the Pass is not blocked, there are various channels navigable for boats (and manatees), and the footprint keeps changing. The summer storms may add other variables such as increased shoaling outside of the bridge, closure of the Pass, or (in a perfect world) blasting out a wider, deeper channel.
The BPA continues its dialogue with Robert Neal, the Lee County engineer in charge of the Blind Pass project, and receives weekly updates. As always, we will keep you in the loop.
On the water quality front, we have received a grant to resume monitoring in our four test locations (on Roosevelt Channel, Sunset Bay, Dinkins Bayou, and Clam Bayou) for the coming year. In a meeting with Heather Stafford of the Charlotte County Aquatic Preserve, she suggested that continuing our water quality monitoring program, building on the three years of baseline results from before and after the Pass was opened, would be of great benefit since no one else is sampling at these sites.
We have entered into a new contract with the SCCF Marine Laboratory. After Blind Pass opened in August, 2009, the SCCF — with funding from the BPA — took over water quality monitoring at the four stations where our volunteer crew had been sampling for the previous two years.
We thank all of you who have made donations to the BPA in 2011. Your ongoing generosity and support allow us to continue our mission: to maintain a stable and healthy marine ecosystem in the Blind Pass area by monitoring water quality and delivering the message, loud and clear, that there’s a group of concerned and committed citizens (more than 300 of us!) out here on Sanibel and Captiva who want to make sure that Blind Pass stays open, now and in the future.