Contractors make headway on Park Shore beach renourishment
Collier County's multi-million dollar beach renourishment project is more than a third complete and on pace to finish up by the end of the year.
Drivers are hauling the sand in from the Stewart Mine in Immokalee, taking about a 50-mile trip. The sand is screened at the mine site for uniformity, then workers at the renourishment site double and triple check the loads brought in by the trucks.
Gary McAlpin, manager of the county’s Coastal Zone Management, said the project is 38% complete.
Contractors from Earth Tech Enterprises are operating from sun up to sundown, seven days a week at three access points along Clam Pass, North Park Shore and Park Shore Beach.
It's a heavier grain sand that allows it to stay on the beach longer, McAlpin said.
"There are no shells or shell hash," he said.
At the Park Shore site, trucks offload the sand as front end loaders feed it onto a conveyor system. The conveyor carries the sand about a quarter mile to the beach using the pedestrian access.
"It's an electric conveyor system, so it's quiet," McAlpin said.
The conveyor can handle 1,500 tons of sand each day. The contractors are hauling the sand to the north end of the project first.
"We want to fill up Clam Pass Beach Park quickly so we don't interrupt the tourists," McAlpin said.
Protecting upland properties from beach erosion is one reason for the renourishment, as well as protecting from storm surge.
"The beach is like an iceberg," McAlpin said. "The dry sand you see only makes up about 10% of the beach. The rest is wet sand."
The county monitors the beaches for erosion each year, and McAlpin said about 65 to 85% of the sand remains on the beach. The rest drifts down south.
Each time a renourishment project is started, less and less sand is need.
In 1995, a renourishment project in the county needed 1.2 million cubic yards of sand. That same area needed only 320,000 cubic yards in 2013.
Karl Schneider is an environment reporter at Naples Daily News. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @karlstartswithk