By Pam Nicholls GSAC Board Member
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Understanding how best to protect people and property from storm surge and hurricanes is the foundation upon which the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study is built.  First time around, not much attention was paid to those who live or work along the Gulf coast and have most at stake.

However, having been given a second chance, USACE has made it a point to take the views of key stakeholders into account.

USACE Project leaders made it clear at a City Council meeting on February 20, that following multiple public meetings, there has been a shift in their focus away from the major fortifications (flood walls and sector gates) included in the original study (2018-2021) towards more nature-based solutions for the County’s 40-mile coastline.

Project Manager Abbegail Preddy said in her presentation to Council that due to the public concern regarding aesthetics, location, and environmental impact of the previously proposed structural measures, her team is concentrating on more natural measures, such as berm and dune nourishment, and non-structural methods such as elevation and floodproofing.

“We’ve heard pretty much unanimous support in the community for less gray and hard infrastructure and more green,” Preddy said.

Collier is partnering with USACE on the federally funded $2.9m study. County staff are collaborating with the Corps on economic modeling to determine potential costs, benefits, and impacts. They hope to make their case for a Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) to the County Board of Commissioners on June 25, 2024.

A draft plan for public review should be available by September 6, 2024, with a final report available to the public by May 2025.

Everyone is welcome to join USACE’s Virtual Monthly Project Status meetings to hear project updates and discuss questions or concerns directly with the project team.

The Next Meeting is Wednesday, March 27 at 3:30 P.M.

Click this link to join or join by phone: 1-844-800-2712 US Toll Free

Meeting access code: 2764 782 0753;

Meeting password: collier_CSRM2023