Attn: The Army Corps of Engineers has extended the first period of public comment until June 7th.
We encourage Collier citizens to EMAIL THE CORPS and make these important recommendations:
1. Urge Collier County officials to request a Locally Preferred Plan that incorporates public input and brings local experts to the table. Collier officials must make this request early in the process. Local SWFL experts best understand Collier County’s unique coastal geology, hydrology, coastal habitats, and climate change risks. Local knowledge and preferences should drive resilience and adaptation planning to best protect lives, minimize property damage, and preserve ecosystems and water quality.
2. Request the use of nature-based infrastructure solutions. Ask the USACE to invite their Engineering with Nature Team to work on this project. The EWN team integrates engineering with nature to address coastal hazards and climate change impacts using eco-compatible tools like mangroves, dunes, fields, and oyster reefs.
- A wave can lose up to 66% of its energy after moving just 328 feet into a mangrove forest. And, unlike sea gates, which can trap stormwater inland, nature-based approaches build upon current hydrological patterns, allowing excess water to drain into the ocean.
- Nature-based solutions are often less expensive than structural measures, provide ecosystem services, and are able to adapt naturally over time.
- Nature-based solutions like mangroves also sequester carbon and provide erosion control. Learn more about nature-based solutions HERE.
3. Specify that USACE includes more than property values in the scope of impact analysis. The analysis should include impacts on the coastal-based tourism economy including, hotels, recreation, restaurants, and ecosystem services like water quality, fish spawning, and wildlife habitat.
If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Perdue at (757) 201-7218 or Collier-CSRM@usace.army.mil.
The virtual meeting held on April 18, 2023, via Zoom was recorded and may be viewed HERE; enter passcode: e7.iJv&1
Materials from the April 26 public meeting are available at https://colliercsrm-usacenao.hub.arcgis.com/
In the News
On April 11th, Collier County’s Board of County Commissioners voted to reinitiate the Collier County Coastal Risk Management Feasibility Study (CRMS) with the Army Corp of Engineers (USACE). The original study initiated in 2018 was shelved in October 2021, when the USACE team was denied a requested exemption that would have allowed them to defer the environmental compliance review of the project for a later Preconstruction, Engineering, and Design phase. As the required environmental review could not be completed before the expiration of the 3-year funding authorization period, the project was frozen. In August of 2022 the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army approved a new three-year extension of the project, and with the Board County Commissioners approval, the project is once again moving forward.
The earlier plan was opposed by numerous environmental groups and residents due to its heavy reliance on structural engineered measures, including storm surge barrier gates at Wiggins and Doctors Pass, seawalls along key roadways, and miles of beach nourishment, reinforcing dunes and berms. It also excluded structural protections on Marco Island and in the Pelican Bay area, leaving some residents concerned that their vulnerability was not being addressed. Opponents noted that the study failed to properly assess the impacts of gates and walls impounding freshwater from inland precipitation; the economic impacts on fisheries and tourism; and the environmental impacts on turtle nesting, aquatic species, and water quality. In a new plan, they’d like USACE to start off with nature-based approaches, perhaps employing less obtrusive hardening structures and more non-structural approaches to address the residual risk to buildings and assets.
A Second Take
The USACE hosted twenty hours of CRMS charrettes from April 24-27, 2023 to utilize the expertise, knowledge, and feedback of the participants gathered to discuss pros and cons of a variety of proposed alternatives. While the resilience tools like storm gates and flood walls were still on the table at the same locations, the USACE encouraged the County to request that the scope be expanded to include compounded flooding using Section 8106 of the Water Resources Development Act. The charrette included a presentation from the Corps’ Engineering with Nature Team, hopefully suggesting that green, or green/gray infrastructure alternatives would be proposed and evaluated. Charrette participants were afforded the opportunity to work in teams and offer alternative interventions in each of the six planning areas, including preferences for non-structural alternatives and enhancements that might fall out of the Corps’ mandate, but would yield more comprehensive resilience and have social and environmental benefits. With regard to alternative plans, a new framework based on maximizing different types of benefits is proposed. A mix of projects/interventions could maximize Economic Benefits, Environmental & Social Benefits, Life Safety Benefits, and Local Preferences, or just focus on non-structural approaches. This would also allow unique combinations of projects and approaches to be encompassed in each alternative to be evaluated. It is both more flexible and nuanced.
We are at the start of a new 3-year feasibility study period, and the first step is the current NEPA scoping phase, where the public can submit comments and concerns to be evaluated and addressed in plan development and environmental review. Growing Climate Solutions urges everyone to submit their comments in writing by June 7th.
Collier County has also created a task force to work alongside the USACE and plans to make these meetings open to the public. We encourage Collier residents to attend the meetings and follow the progress and deliberations. There is an excellent opportunity for Collier County to benefit from federal support of resiliency objectives. Collaborating with the Corps to fashion an outstanding plan has great potential to make Collier County a leader in coastal resilience and a model for Florida and the nation.
DVIDS – Video – USACE Works to Re initiate Collier County CSRM (dvidshub.net) ACOE and Gary McAlpin
Jan 2023 ACOE BCC Presentation PowerPoint Presentation (gsacnaples.org)