By Dave Trecker
What’s in it for Pelican Bay?
We know what’s in it for the city of Naples.
I’m talking about the proposal to open Clam Bay to Moorings Bay, replacing existing culverts with a bridge on Seagate Drive.
The proposal coming from a group called the Moorings Bay Citizens Advisory Committee would allow Seagate residents to get their powerboats to the Gulf through Doctor’s Pass. That’s what this is all about. It’s not about the environment. It’s not about water quality.
Earlier attempts by Seagate to access the Gulf through Clam Pass failed. That would have required deep dredging of Outer Clam Bay, a huge environmental risk.
So now Seagate is pointing south instead of north.
The direction has changed, but the arguments are the same. We are still being told Clam Bay needs help. Seagrass is dying (studies debunked that), shellfish are gone, the marine ecosystem is poorly developed. Connect with pristine Moorings Bay, and those problems will be flushed away.
The trouble is the predominant flow is from Clam Bay to Moorings Bay, not the other way around. Tidal flushing could drain water from Clam Bay, jeopardizing the mangroves and putting even more pressure on Clam Pass, which has closed twice in the past year.
Connecting the two bays was considered as far back as 1981 (Florida Department of Environmental Regulation) but was rejected because of the risk of “excessive dewatering of Clam Bay.”
What about water quality today? Clam Bay is healthy. Its water quality is comparable to that of Moorings Bay. Connecting the two will benefit neither. But it could put the Clam Bay ecosystem at serious risk.
It’s important to remember that Clam Bay is a Natural Resources Protection Area. It is not a water source for powerboaters.
The Naples proposal calls for more studies. Fine. Study away. Objective science is always useful. More knowledge can’t hurt.
But if this project goes forward, I urge our friends to the south to do two things.
(1) Think only in terms of a plan that benefits all parties and harms none. This cannot be just about getting Seagate powerboats to the Gulf and damn the consequences.
(2) Involve county and Pelican Bay representatives in these deliberations. Studies carried out by Naples alone will lead nowhere.