Photo Courtesy of Marinas.com
Numerous organizations in addition to Save our Siesta Sand have announced their opposition to the Army Corps plan. These include the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Siesta Key Village Association, the Siesta Key Condominium Council, the Siesta Key Association, and the Boater's Coalition. Most of these groups have made major donations to our legal fund and are listed under donors on this site. The entire basis of the Army Corps claim that there will be no harm to navigation or Siesta Key is based on their modeling results. SOSS2 retained Dr. Robert Young to examine the risks of relying on these models. Dr. Young concluded that the results of dredging Big Pass are unpredictable and impacts to Siesta Key have not been adequately considered. His conclusions were presented in a May, 2015 meeting sponsored by the major organizations on Siesta Key.
The County Commissioners requested an independent peer review of the Army Corps plans. That review was conducted by Atkins Engineering and completed in October, 2015. This report raised the same types of issues that Dr. Young had raised about the models, the use of obsolete data and the potential impacts on navigation and Siesta Key beaches. It reinforced all of our worst fears. The presentation slides can be found at https://goo.gl/wRxsB6 with the full report at https://goo.gl/1dTKgj.
If you want to make your voice heard, please click on Submit a Petition on the top right at the top of this page. Whatever you write in the comments box will be sent to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Army Corps, our Congressman and all of the County and City Commissioners and their administrators.
In the meantime the Army Corps is continuing to move forward with their same plan. They have ignored the repeated requests by environmental organizations and the County Commission to generate an Environment Impact Statement before proceeding any further with their proposals to dredge Big Pass, New Pass and Longboat Pass. Instead they are issuing a FONSI which is a Finding of No Significant Impact by this massive project on navigation, the environment and Siesta Key.
They are relying on a much less thorough Environmental Assessment (EA). Their rationale is based on the following statement "This EA is "tiered" off of the 2002 EA; a FONSI was signed for the 2002 EA on September 17, 2002." There was an "update" in 2015. We of course reject this rationale for a number of reasons including the obvious fact that many things have changed during the ensuing years. We will continue to insist on an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will require a current and thorough examination of all the issues in the Big Pass area vs. the partial view provided by the EA. You can find a list of project and related documents here.
SOSS2 has joined forces with the Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF). FWF is very active in preserving, managing, and improving Florida's fish, wildlife, soil, water, and plant life. They have a very experienced and successful legal team that will be an enormous help as we jointly address the issues raised by the Army Corps plan to dredge Big Pass. They have about 12,000 members and almost 50,000 supporters. Please check out their website and if you are not a member please join and help them help us! http://www.fwfonline.org/
We have submitted several letters to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), City Commissioners, County Commissioners and the FDEP regarding the Army Corps plans and questioned its compliance with several acts, such as the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species, NEPA and the Water Resources Act. Click here to get a copy of the most recent letter. The Florida Wildlife Foundation has also written another joint letter with SOSS2 to the ACOE and FDEP. Click here to get a copy of the latest letter. We have retained Martha Collins of the Collins Law Group who have been successful in challeging permits in Florida.
Siesta Key is a barrier island located on the west coast of Florida in Sarasota. It was named #1 beach in 2011 by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, and #1 beach in the US by Tripadvisor this year. Siesta Key has several other accolades to its credit. With 99% quartz as its sand, it truly is the finest, whitest sand in the world. It doesn't heat in the summer and it feels like talcum powder on your feet.
The Latest Video
The Army Corps of Engineers has worked with the City of Sarasota, producing a dredge plan that proposes initially removing almost 1 million cubic yards of sand from the protective ebb shoal of Siesta Key located in Big Sarasota Pass. Over the life of the project there is a total of almost 5 million cubic yards of sand which could completely bury about four Empire State buildings laid on their sides. Alternatively, imagine 27 large dump trucks removing sand running every day for 50 years! The intended use of the sand is to renourish Lido Key beaches and build a 5' berm of sand along its shores, which are private beaches. A berm made of sand on a coastal beach and on only one side of an island will be useless and will not protect St. Armand's from flooding. Watch this 20 minute video documenting what happened when the City dredged the New Pass ebb shoal that protected north Lido Key beach. If you do not have the time to watch the entire video, watch the first minute and note the position of the dredge of the ebb shoal. In a little more than a year after the dredge, the North Lido beach has almost been lost and no mitigation is planned. Consider the planned dredge of the protective ebb shoal off Siesta Key. No one can predict whether this same amount of erosion will occur on Siesta beach but it certainly seems likely. Observable facts speak louder than models.
How to help
Help us save this untouched island by submitting your donation today to ensure that no harm comes to Siesta beaches, waterfront property or navigation in Big Pass. You can help support SOSS2 by making your tax free contribution to our Legal fund. Click here to donate.