A citizen shovel brigade was back at work for the third straight day Wednesday, trying to reopen a sand-choked Clam Pass in North Naples.
More than two dozen people, most of them children, stood in the 4-foot-deep trench between the Gulf of Mexico and Clam Bay and hoisted sand on top of the growing piles on either side of the cut. The ditch had ankle-deep water, but water wasn't flowing at low tide Wednesday morning.
Collier County's attempt to get a federal permit to dredge the pass on an emergency basis has been mired in environmental permitting complications from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Some worry a sensitive mangroves forest in Clam Bay will suffer if something is not done soon.
"While officials fiddle, the (Clam Bay) estuary is burning," said Pelican Bay part-time resident Chuck Hill, 75, a retiree from Massachusetts who took up a shovel Wednesday.
Collier County commissioners recently voted 3-2 to turn over permitting responsibilities at Clam Pass to the Pelican Bay Services Division, an arm of county government that advises the county on spending the community taxing district money. That group meets at 1 p.m. Wednesday.