What does the beach renourishment project mean for our sea turtles?

May 3, 2019
By Marcy Shortuse

Last week the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville announced that some Gasparilla Island beaches in Lee County would be renourished this summer, which initially sounds like a great idea. Beaches in the Historic District have lost a great deal of sand in the last few years, leaving a big dropdown from the sea wall.
But what does this mean for our sea turtle nesting season?
According to Jim Yocum, the public affairs specialist for USACE, all nesting shorebirds and sea turtles that would be directly impacted by the beach renourishment project will be relocated.
“We work diligently to protect wildlife during our projects, and our construction plan is designed to have minimal impact on turtle nesting season,” Yocum said.  “The project includes daily early-morning monitoring by state-permitted turtle observers to relocate nests to a safe location, and that will continue throughout construction. In addition to caring for sea turtles, we will monitor and respond to issues impacting other local wildlife, including shorebirds, during construction operations.
“Part of our job is to make sure they are all taken to safe locations. And they will be moved by experts in the field.”
The renourishment plan includes 1.4 miles of beach around the Historic District and approximately 0.4 mile at the south end.
According to USACE, the $6.4 million project is expected to take about two months to complete, and is scheduled to start in late May.