BY OLIVIA CAMERON- For months, the sight of a barge has interrupted the endless ocean view from the south end of Boca Grande. Since February, a pile of equipment has been an unexplained puzzle to locals.
Many island organizations were unsure of its sudden placement, but local fishermen have spent enough time on the water to spread the news.
Charter Captain Chuck Jenks stated the barge has been stationed for work just north of the area.
“That’s where they have stored all the equipment for the beach renourishment project, which was just completed for Palm Island.”
When asked Captain Charlie Coleman reiterated Jenks’ understanding of the situation.
“They’ve been staging the equipment here from Manasota Key. They’re not digging for gold or anything.”
According to Misty Nichols, executive director of the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association, the Great Lakes Dredge company has stationed their gear in the Charlotte Harbor, their safe harbor.
Manasota Key Beach Renourishment Project Manager Mathew Logan confirmed the Charlotte Harbor barge has been the drop-off for their gadgets that have been used daily.
“That is the anchor barge. It has been monitored to make sure it is properly lit at night as well,” said Logan.
The project has extended 4.4 miles through the Charlotte County and Sarasota County line. Once the equipment was staged around February, workers began their plan of discharging 1,009,000 cubic yards of sand on March 2.
In total, the project was permitted eight offshore burrow areas to utilize replacement sand. The company also designed the process to allow the placement of three mitigation reefs along with the restoration.
Great Lakes Dredge worked to renourish the beach just in time for turtle nesting season.
“The team is ready to move the equipment to the next project,” said Logan. Their next project involves replenishing the sand of Don Pedro Island and Knight Island, where the equipment is set to relocate south of Stump Pass.
Photo by Dusty