Opening Clam Pass
An eroding solution
COLLIER COUNTY — It’s a short drive from U.S. 41 but seems like a world away.
Clam Bay’s tidal creeks and bays meander for some three miles through a mangrove forest tucked away along the North Naples coastline.
Boaters, kayakers, canoers and paddleboarders ply its waters. Wading fishermen cast their lines. Swimmers ride the tides in and out of Clam Pass, which connects the bay to the Gulf of Mexico.
The idyllic scene changed in December, when shifting sands choked off Clam Pass. Tides slowed to a trickle, and lovers of the fragile preserve jumped to action.
Alarmed at the bogged-down bid to get an environmental permit to reopen the pass, an impromptu volunteer shovel brigade materialized almost overnight. Dozens of tourists, locals and children took turns digging a deep, narrow trench between the bay and Gulf.
The job was more a labor of love than an engineering marvel, a sign of solidarity for an ecosystem on the ropes.
Bay watchers feared that, left closed off for too long, Clam Bay would slowly die. Rains would drown a restored mangrove forest. Stagnant water would lead to fish kills and seagrass die-offs. Wading birds would abandon their feeding spots.
The worst didn’t happen before the long-awaited permit was issued. The community breathed a sigh of relief when crews using bulldozers, dump trucks and a trackhoe got to work last month.
Beachgoers cheered when workers removed the last bit of sand holding back the Gulf of Mexico — but the celebration was short-lived.
Crews were back on the job over Easter weekend to reopen the pass after stormy weather closed it a second time.
Mother Nature will take it from there.
WORK TO REOPEN CLAM PASS
- Video: Opening Clam Pass
- Video: Tour of Clam Pass
- Photos: A look at Clam Bay
- Photos: Clam Pass Re-Open After Clearing
- Photos: Dredging to start at Clam Pass
- Photos: Clam Pass Update - 03/27/13
- Photos: Clam Pass reopened after dredging project
- Photos: Clam Pass Update
- Photos: Clam Pass Dredging
- Photos: Clam Pass
- Photos: Decisions being made about Clam Pass
- Photos: Efforts Continue at Clam Pass
- Photos: Clam Pass Dig
- Clam Pass: An open and shut to open again case
- Go with the flow: Clam Pass passable again, commission to discuss
- Crews resume dredging to correct the Clam Pass-fail project
- Bad clams: Just-opened Clam Pass is filling up with sand again
- Open waters: Crews reopen Clam Pass channel from bay to Gulf
- Making a pass: Crews closing in on getting Clam Pass flowing again
- Digging in: Crews to begin scooping sand today to reopen Clam Pass
- Work crews start preparing to dredge Clam Pass
- Shovel ready: Clam Pass dredging permit issued
- Crews prepared to move Clam Pass dredging equipment into place
- Collier staff, Army Corps work out issues for Clam Pass dredging permit
- Collier commissioners: Go full speed ahead in getting permit to clear Clam Pass
- Oooh that smell: Sand-choked Clam Bay estuary starting to stink
- Participate: Share your photos and videos of Clam Pass »