Iguana program to continue for one extra month
The Captiva Community Panel recently approved additional funds to extend its iguana control pilot program by a month as it seeks funding from Lee County to cover a possible permanent service.
At the July 9 meeting, the panel members voted 7-0 to allocate an extra $2,000 for Alfredo Fermin, owner of AAA Wildlife Trapping and Removal Services, to continue his weekly visits to the island for another month. The panel had approved $5,000 in April for 10 weeks of service as a pilot program.
The goal of the trial run is to determine if the iguana population is big enough to warrant an ongoing service. For it, Fermin has been eradicating the reptiles, but also keeping a record to serve as data.
“We’re near the end of our test program,” Panel Member Dave Jensen said at the meeting.
The panel’s liaison on iguana issues who has been overseeing the pilot, he reported that Fermin has encountered “a lot of young iguanas, a lot of babies,” as well as has identified problem areas along the bayside. However, Jensen questioned the impact once-a-week visits were having on the population.
“I don’t think we’ve determined we’re making big progress,” he said.
Jensen noted that Fermin submitted a proposal for ongoing services, but Jensen voiced concern that a permanent program may require more than weekly visits to help keep the iguana numbers in check.
“I don’t know what kind of effect that will be,” he said of keeping the trial’s parameters.
Administrator Ken Gooderham reported that Fermin had eradicated 146 iguanas.
“He said this is obviously a problem,” he said.
Gooderham added that he planned to contact Lee County officials on behalf of the panel about funding an iguana program based on the data collected, but it will take time and the pilot will end before that.
“We’re not going to get county money instantaneously,” he said.
President David Mintz said it seemed to him that the issue is a county responsibility.
“We need to make a full court effort to get it funded,” he said of any service.
“It looks like we have a serious problem that could get out of hand – like it did on Boca Grande,” Mintz added. “I think we need to move on this as quickly as we can.”
Others agreed, voicing opposition to having the service lapse while waiting on the county.
“I would like to keep Alfredo involved,” Vice President Mike Borris said.
A motion was made to pay $2,000 to continue the program, while staff reached out to the county.
With the Captiva Erosion Prevention District recently voting down a proposal for it to pay $5,000 to clean up and landscape the beach entrance off Andy Rosse Lane – under the advice of its attorney that the project was not within the CEPD’s purview – the plan, and how to fund it, fell back to the panel.
At the meeting, Gooderham reported to the panel that he would put together a proposal on the project and reach out to county officials and the Tourist Development Council for possible funding for it.
Panel Member Mike Lanigan asked that an existing bike rack remain as part of the design.
“Maybe even add one or two new racks,” he said.
Gooderham also provided the panel members with an update on the efforts to get fishing prohibited from the Blind Pass Bridge. Officials at the Lee County Department of Transportation, which has authority over the bridge, were uncomfortable with the change without the commissioners’ approval.
So, he is putting together a proposal for the Lee County Commission to review.
Gooderham added that it will likely take a couple months to get it before the commission.
He noted that the commissioners are off until August.
Also during the meeting, Mintz reported that Johnson Engineering has started the design and engineering of the Captiva Drive walkway, which will stretch from the post office to Andy Rosse.
“They are beginning their elevation piece of the project,” he said.
The panel has agreed to $37,250 for the design – down from $40,000.
Mintz said the firm is working on it through the summer and fall.
“Hopefully, we’re on the road to getting it done,” he said.
At the meeting, Panel Member Jay Brown provided an update on behalf of the Sea Level Rise Committee. He reported that over the past month, the members have been gathering information and educating themselves on the subject and the threat, as well as putting together documentation.
Brown said there are two next steps for the group – a conference call with an expert in modeling, which Sanibel officials are taking part in, and discussion on the role of mangrove shorelines. He noted that mangroves are proving to have “super capabilities” when it comes to mitigating storm impact.
IN OTHER NEWS
– Brown reported that consultant David Tomasko, of Environmental Science Associates, recently conducted a second round of water samples as part of the supplemental wastewater study. The samples were taken from the end of Andy Rosse Lane as a “wet season” comparison to the first set taken.
He added that they were still waiting on the results as of the meeting.
– During public comment, a discussion arose about overgrown vegetation impeding the pedestrian pathways and roads. As a result, Mintz will work with staff on possible language for the Captiva Code.