Walkover Will Harm Critical Habitat

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These photos were taken shortly after Cristobal, a typical summer storm and show the enlarged lagoon area in front of the Texas Hold’em and Squeeze Me Inn properties (far left). These photos show:

  1. The dynamic and ever-changing nature and size of the lagoons, dunes and beach on our barrier island.  A permanent structure for private use in this ever-changing wetland habitat should not be built.
  2. Any Special Exception given for a walkover would cause irreparable damage to the lagoon, by its very construction in an environmentally sensitive area and ongoing changes to water flow and sediment accumulation.
  3. The lagoons are critical feeding areas for the wading birds such as the roseate spoonbill, little blue heron and other species with significant declines in their populations. The dunes are critical nesting areas for Wilson plovers and snowy plovers. Least terns and black skimmers forage from the lagoons.  All of this area is critical habitat regardless of whether or not it is in or outside of the boundaries of the LECWA. Keeping this area natural without lagoon walkovers, is in my opinion, even more important than the FWC designation of a Critical Wildlife Area. Why? Because FWC posts the beach nesting birds inside and outside of the LECWA, with the cooperation of the property owners, and is able to do so with enforcement because of the threatened status of the least terns and snowy plovers.
  4. The walkover will divide, degrade and destroy the habitat these birds depend upon and increase human disturbance to the point that the birds may either perish or try to relocate to somewhere else, if other suitable habitat can even be found.
  5. Let’s keep in mind that while the TPI development on FMB is part of revitalizing the North End, residents and tourists alike enjoy the natural habitat, wildlife observations and unobstructed views of the South End of FMB.
  6. The integrity of the lagoons, the survivability/presence of the birds, and the natural view will all be negatively impacted by the addition of a walkover for two property owners who bought their homes with the lagoons there.

 

Penny Jarrett
Fort Myers Beach