Since December 2012 Clam Pass is no longer exchanging tidal water with the Gulf of Mexico. This started when a series of violent offshore storms moved massive amounts of replenished sand into the mouth of the pass, effectively shutting it off.
A week ago I went down for a walk along the beach at Clam Pass. The sandbar was unchanged since December and was very wide and thick with beach sand probably 4 feet above the regular beach profile.
There has been no emergency dredging of the pass and it took a few volunteers with shovels a lot of effort to try and open the pass. Unfortunately in so doing it may have caused a bigger problem because water has flowed out of the pass but has not been replaced with Gulf of Mexico water thus causing the backwaters of Clam Bay to lower in depth and effectively quicken the dying off process of the mangroves and fish trapped in the shallow stagnant waters.
This week the efforts of the volunteers with a shovels was clear but what was also apparent was the stench of the decaying mass which no doubt will in time get worse and will cause discomfort to many people including tourists visiting the beach at Clam Pass.
There is no doubt in my mind that Collier County and groups involved in Pelican Bay could have done much more but are now trapped in a quagmire of political discourse stemmed primarily for their dislike for the new Collier County Commissioner for Pelican Bay, Georgia Hiller.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this project of opening the pass would’ve happened in the appropriate amount of time should all parties involved in the political process been cordial in political matters leading up to this natural disaster.
Commissioner Georgia Hiller needs to learn to work with administration in their varied capacities and build alliances for her Pelican Bay community. Up till now Georgia Hiller has done nothing of the sort. She has taken every opportunity to embarrass Collier County staff members on public television almost weekly. This has become a soap opera but more seriously has put Collier County in an embarrassing situation where little can be done to ask for outside help with our needs from the state, which includes the Department of Environmental Protection and from the federal government, the Army Corp. of engineers.
We can only hope that for the sake of the dying fauna and flora of Clam Pass that humanity will play its part in the better management of the pass.