Things to do in the Naples Area this Weekend

Things to do in the Naples Area this Weekend

Things to do in the Naples Area this Weekend

Things to do in the Naples Area this Weekend – The weekend is rolling in once again and – even more good news – there are plenty of  things to do in the Naples area this weekend.

 

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Go Deep

Imagine building a home and just two hours later having it be full of life. That’s what happens when an artificial reef is sunk off the Gulf Coast.

This established artificial reef is located about 29 miles west of Marco. Someday the new reefs will resemble this one.
This established artificial reef is located about 29 miles west of Marco. Someday the new reefs will resemble this one.

Collier County’s new artificial reef project is joining local municipalities, scientists, the Corps of Engineers, the Community Foundation of Collier County and private citizens to beef up the amount of sea life in local waters. The Economic Recovery Task Force of Collier County and its Artificial Reef project team are spearheading the project, but a wide cross-section of agencies and individuals are supporting the initiative too.

At press time, all 36 concrete artificial reefs were expected to be in place. Since placement of the first reef in January, div- ers and boat captains have reported not only more marine life but also different species, says Diane Flagg of the Economic Recovery Task Force.

One unique thing spotted on the new reefs is a whale shark. “In talking to a boat captain who’s been on the water for 30 years, he said he’s never seen one,” said Flagg, who helms the ERTF with co-chair Jeff Ahren. “And nobody we’ve ever talk- ed to has seen a whale shark off the coast of Naples.”

And the more sea life, the more vital the economy. According to the task force’s business plan, within two years the reefs could bring in $30 million annually through boating, diving, hotel accom- modations and even fishing tournaments.

This dollar figure is based on a formula from the University of Florida’s 2011 Sea Grant Study.

Local lawyer Peter Flood first raised the idea for a reef. Flood approached Flagg just as she was about to retire as director of code enforcement for Collier County. His timing was good: Flagg would be able to devote the hours needed to help get the project going.

Buy-in came from everywhere, as Flagg tells it. All three local municipalities – the cities of Naples and Marco Island plus Collier County approved the project and applied for and received settlement money from BP as reparations for the 2010 Deep- water Horizon Oil Spill.

The reefs have been placed in locations 12-30 miles offshore. Each spot was formerly described as a “desert.” This was a require- ment, said Flagg. The Army Corps of Engineers would only approve permits for places where no marine life already congregated.

A documentary in progress titled “Paradise Reef: The World is Watching,” will hopefully sell the project to citizens. Filmmaker John Scoular, who has been on board since the beginning, has a letter of intent from PBS to distribute the film. Scoular has been filming interviews and footage on location as the reefs have been deployed.

Longtime cameraman Scoular along with his wife, producer Madeline Scoular, joined Lance and Harry Julian of Naples in Pure Image Productions for the project. Through their company Marine Team International, the Julians have acted as consultants on water-related films included “Waterworld,” “Titanic,” “Fool’s Gold” and other projects.

jeremysterk.com Soon after deployment, fish start populating the reef.
jeremysterk.com
Soon after deployment, fish start populating the reef.

With “Paradise Reef,” Scoular admits they rather “put the cart before the horse” and started filming with their own money so as not to miss any part of the process. Scoular need about $527,000), viewers will see the reefs being constructed and placed from start to finish. Each reef is eight feet tall and has a sturdy base, which enables it to withstand the Gulf ’s current. Some have concrete benches that were lowered with airbags and placed on the sea floor. Divers can sit on these benches and watch the local sea life playing in their new home. The benches were donated by the city of Naples, Flagg said. “They were going to break them up and send them to the landfill. The beauty of this project is ultimate recycling. [Before this], they were going to go to the landfill.”

Over the years, other artificial reefs, many made of old ships, have been lowered into the Gulf. The World War II ship USS Mohawk was given a new home on the Gulf bottom 28 miles off the Sanibel coast in July 2012. Although artificial reef building is not a new phenomenon, organizers of the Collier County project claim it’s one of the largest projects in the area to-date.

Among the Paradise Reef installations, three so far are named for benefactors – the Wasmer family, Harold Foote, and former U.S. Ambassador Francis Rooney and Kathleen Rooney. Each family has donated $100,000 for a “legacy reef.” Forever appearing on marine charts will be the Wasmer Reef, the Foote Family Reef and the Rooney Reef.

Three more legacy reefs may be sponsored at $100,000 each. Donations from $25 to $500,000 can be made to support the project as well. For the latter sum, the documentary film will be dedicated to the donor.

 

 

Written by:  Dayna Harpster
dayna@swspotlight.com
Independent Journalism and Public Relations
WGCU Public Media
Editor, Expressions magazine
(239) 425-5124

 Source Spotlight Magazines
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Lee County Beaches

The Lee County Beaches of Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Estero span 50 miles from Gasparilla Island State Recreation Area to Bonita Beach Road, and with 18 miles of public parks on the beachfront, there are over 100 beach accesses!

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Barefoot Beach State Preserve

On the south end of Little Hickory Island, one will find the natural surrounding of a state preserve. Tours are available as well as guided canoe trips to learn about the various wildlife species in the area.  Barefoot Beach is located between Bonita Beach and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, and the entrance is at Lely Beach Boulevard.

Bonita Beach Park

Located in the luxurious Bonita area, this five-acre white sand beach park is easily accessible and only 20 feet off Bonita Beach Road and Lely Barefoot Boulevard.  Public bathrooms, showers, and concessions are available.

Lover’s Key State Park

Lover’s Key State Park is more than 700 acres and can be accessed between Estero and Bonita Beach.  Along with its gorgeous beach, this beautiful state park showcases land, marine ecosystems, and wetlands.

Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach on Estero Island is very popular with the young and old.  Right on the beach you will find parasailing, jet-ski, and even paddle boat rentals.  The beach is perfect for sun bathing, and many island shops and restaurants are located along the boardwalk.  Fishermen and sunset watchers will truly enjoy the Fort Myers Beach Pier, and its famous Times Square with quaint little shops.

Dog Beach

Dog Beach in Bonita Springs is one of the only “pets permitted” public beaches.  Bonita Beach does not permit pets.  Dog Beach is also known as the “Lee County Off-Leash Dog Area.”  It is located north of Bonita Beach Road where it curves north and becomes Hickory Boulevard.  It is physically located just north of the New Pass bridge and just before Carl Johnson boat ramp and Lover’s Key state park.  It’s only a few miles south of Fort Myers Beach and provides parking, plastic bags and dog waste disposal stations.

 

The Island Beaches of Sanibel Island & Captiva Island Beaches offer more than just a place to soak up the sun.  Because of their ease-west orientation, the islands are a haven for undisturbed shells and the water’s current is perfect for adventuresome windsurfers. Of course there’s always time for a picnic.  Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 10.31.18 AM

Sanibel Beach

Sanibel Beach is located on one of the most unique barrier islands in the world.  For those who like to go shelling, Sanibel and Captiva beaches are the place to be.  Bathrooms are located at most public beach accesses and some have picnic tables.

Sanibel Lighthouse

The historical Sanibel Lighthouse is located on the eastern tip of the island at Causeway Road and Periwinkle Way.  Here, one can fish from the Sanibel Pier or take a nature walk on a winding boardwalk through the native wetlands.

Bowman’s Beach

Bowman’s Beach located off Sanibel-Captiva Road is a more secluded beach, and amenities include an outdoor shower, public bathrooms, picnic tables, and even barbecue grills.

Captiva Beach

Captiva Beach is five miles long and located on the north end of Captiva Island.  Besides being popular for shelling, many couples enjoy a romantic evening on the beach watching the fabulous sunsets.

Causeway Beaches

Here beach-goers can pull vehicles right up to the water’s edge and there is no parking fee.  The Causeway Beaches are a chain of islands that go from Summerlin Road to Sanibel Island.  These beaches are located on both sides of the road and bathrooms are available.  They’re great for picnicking, fishing, and windsurfing.  Warning for swimmers; there can be strong currents, so be sure to watch the little ones.

Tarpon Bay Beach

Located at the south end of Tarpon Bay Road and West Gulf Drive, parking for this beach is easily accessible for recreational vehicles, and it is only a short walk to the white sandy beach.

Turner Beach

Turner Beach is great for shelling and fishing, but its swift currents are not for swimmers.  This beach is located on the Sanibel/Captiva side of Blind Pass Bridge.

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