A small team consisting of leaders, planners, project managers, environmental scientist from the North Atlantic Division, Norfolk and Jacksonville districts, travelled around with representatives from Collier County, Florida looking at areas impacted by the effects of Hurricane Ian.
The team is working with county officials to reinitiate the Collier County Storm Risk Management feasibility study, which was nearing a final report in 2022 when a set back was realized.
“We were denied an environmental policy exception, which caused us to pause the study and the study expired before we were able to finish the final report and publish that for public review,” said Michelle Hamor, Norfolk District chief of planning branch.
Planners were able successfully request additional time and funding to restart the study, and are working with Collier County, as well as the cities of Naples and Marco Island, Florida, to determine what should and should not be considered as part of the reinitiated study.
“Ultimately, we are talking partnerships. We are working with the county, doing site visits, and really understanding what the project is about.” said Col. Brian Hallberg, Norfolk District Commander.
The visit is providing the district team the ability to get a first-hand look at the impacts Hurricane Ian had within the study area, and it is allowing for an analysis on some of the features included in the original unfinished study to determine how effective those may have been if they were constructed.
“Hurricane Ian had a tremendous impact on our community, we lost more than 400,000 tons of cubic sand off our beaches and we lost our dunes and we lost our vegetative structures in front of the dunes,” Gary McAlpin, Collier County special project manager.
Measures the team are looking at as part of the study include, structural and non-structural features, as well as beach and dune nourishment to help protect critical infrastructure along the low-lying coastline.
The project team is actively working on plans to engage citizens and governing bodies within Collier County as the study process proceeds.
The next step in the process is for Collier County Commissioners to formally vote on a concurrence to restart the study. A vote from the commissioners is expected to come next month.
If the county agrees to reinitiate, the team will work closely with county and city officials, as well as the local public to come up with the best plan to help mitigate the risks to the shoreline communities within Collier County.
Individuals interested in the Collier County Coastal Storm Risk Mitigation study can find additional information at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/CollierCountyCSRMFeasibilityStudy/