New plantings, more going in at San-Cap Road project
With the first and second phases of the emergency shore protection project on Sanibel-Captiva Road near Blind Pass completed, the final step of installing new vegetation is scheduled for this week.
Construction for the approximately $1.4 million project – covered by grant funds from Lee County and the Lee County Tourist Development Council – concluded at the end of May, with the area welcoming back beach-goers in early June when the Sanibel City Council lifted parking restrictions.
“Everybody working together made this project possible,” Sanibel Natural Resources Director James Evans said. “We’ve already seen a number of residents and visitors using that stretch of beach.”
Before calling the project a wrap, the last task to check off was installing the new plantings and a rope and bollards system for the dune. The plan was to wait until the arrival of the summer season rains.
“We’re hoping we get some rain along with the project,” he said, explaining that it will water the new vegetation so the city does not have to, but that the city is prepared to water the plants if necessary.
Last week, the city was finalizing its planting plan.
“Next week we will be installing the dune vegetation,” Evans said on June 25.
“There’s three different sections of plantings,” he continued. “Three different contractors were selected to do the work. We got three quotes and selected the lowest for the respective (sections of) project.”
The contacts went to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Native Landscapes & Garden Center and R.S. Walsh, as well as the All Native Garden Center & Plant Nursery in Fort Myers.
“It’s very diverse,” he said of the plan. “There’s a lot of different plants.”
Of the nearly 3,500 native plantings going in, some species are dune sunflowers, sea oats, railroad vines, sea oxeye daisies, inkberries, wild olives, sea grapes, sea coast marsh elders and sea purslanes.
“Dune and salt marsh species,” Evans said, pointing out that the low-growing plantings will help to stabilize the dune so it is not susceptible to wind- and water-borne erosion heading in the future.
Green and silver buttonwoods and white and black mangroves are also planned.
“Mangroves and buttonwoods impacted on the south end of the project are going to be replaced and restored,” he said. “To restore the impacted habitat and create new areas for shorebirds and sea turtles.”
The installation of vegetation is expected to be finished by the end of this week.
Additional plantings are planned for the summer, which will significantly increase the total.
“We’re also going to be putting in a rope and bollards system,” Evans said, explaining that similar systems can be seen at most beach accesses and that their purpose is to keep people out of dune areas.
“So they do not get trampled and can get established,” he added.
The city has even documented sand accretion in areas where the method is used.
“That’s been a very effective tool for managing many of the beach parks on Sanibel,” Evans said.
The city will install new signage with the system.
July 10 is the estimated completion date for the final step of the project.
“That’s going to be the last thing we need to do,” he said.
For the project, a larger approximately 500-foot armor stone layer was installed along an existing buried revetment, plus the installation of a Truline system – steel, concrete and vinyl combined into a one-wall system. A dual-interlocking vinyl form encases and protects the concrete and steel rebar.
A soft shoreline was then recreated with sand placement and dune restoration.
“The project is a really good example of how Sanibel and Captiva worked together with Lee County to make our beach more resilient to the future effects of climate change and sea-level rise,” Evans said.
He extended appreciation to all involved with the project, including the county, TDC, SCCF, Captiva Erosion Prevention District, Captiva Community Panel, city staff, islands’ communities and more.
“It’s just a really good example of what we can do together,” Evans said. “We’re very happy to see this project completed, and we’re ready to move on to the next project.”