SKA objects to second dune access pathway at Turtle Beach, citing increased truck traffic and gopher disturbances

April 28, 2023 —

As of April 24, trucks began hauling sand for Turtle Beach Repair, even though the County has not yet received a response to its request to FEMA for an extension of time to complete the project. Since June 30 is still the official project completion date, the County is proceeding to meet that deadline.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has modified the project permit to include a second dune access pathway to speed sand delivery to the beach. SKA protested the fact that the department would allow the beach repair project to proceed in spite of the presence of two gopher tortoise burrows near the dune access pathways. SKA does not support this permit modification request and asked that FDEP not facilitate doubling the rate of trucks and disturbance of the tortoises. See dune access pathways and gopher turtle burrow locations.

County project manager Curtis Smith stated that the modified permit contains conditions “relating to protection of gopher tortoises (Specific Condition 17). There is no a priori gopher tortoise permit to obtain before starting construction on our project, unless we identify gopher tortoises in a location that unavoidably conflicts with construction activities. In the event of an unavoidable conflict, we will be required to relocate the affected tortoise. Relocation requires a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. We are planning for an updated gopher tortoise survey to determine whether there are any current conflicts.”

 The County website states that “The county is working with a contracted coastal engineering firm to engage Mote Marine Laboratory and Sarasota Audubon Society for daily shorebird and sea turtle monitoring services in the project area once nesting season starts.”

SKA will study our options to oppose this modification to double the project’s truck traffic. SKA has worked to change the project schedule since it learned that the work was proposed to begin at the height of tourist season. 

Sarasota News Leader, April 28, 2023, Rachel Brown Hackney: “Trucks begin hauling sand to Turtle Beach Park for South Siesta Beach Repair Project”

Sarasota News Leader, April 20, 2023, Rachel Brown Hackney: “Staging underway for South Siesta Key Beach Repair Project, with construction start expected at any time.”

Sarasota News Leader, February 9, 2023, Rachel Brown Hackney:Exacerbated traffic congestion during high tourist season remains big focus of Siesta residents, with South Siesta Beach Repair Project looming