Lee County's beaches are its No. 1 economic and environmental asset. Unfortunately, approximately 15 miles of the 47 total miles of Gulf beaches in Lee County experience critical erosion. To address this on-going concern the Coastal Advisory Council (CAC) and the Division of Natural Resources staff work with other government agencies and beach property owners to plan for the restoration and maintenance needs of our beaches including the technical, economic, funding, and education issues associated with beach management.
The County participates in specific projects developed for Gasparilla Island, Captiva and Northern Sanibel, Blind Pass, Fort Myers Beach (Estero Island), Lovers Key, and Bonita Beach.
Erosion... One third of all the beaches in Lee County are classified as critically eroded.
Erosion of our beaches is a natural, continuous process that poses substantial threat to our coastal development, infrastructure and economy.
Our best option for dealing with this problem is to take action to restore and maintain our beaches. The quality of life we enjoy in Lee County, the economic engine of tourism, and the natural habitats for our wild creatures, depend on the health and sustainability of our beaches and coastal systems.
Our beaches deserve more than a "Band-Aid" approach to their health. We need to plan, manage, and endorse restoration and enhancement of one of our most important county assets.
| Hurricane Protection... a wide beach can reduce hurricane damage by 50%.|
Wide, healthy beaches cause breaking waves associated with storms to expend their energy further away from the upland shoreline. Waves, carried closer to shore by storm surges, are one of the primary causes of damage to coastal structures. High, wide sandy beaches and dunes are the most cost effective form of protection from tropical storms and hurricanes.
| Economic Impact... healthy beaches equal a healthy economy.|
The Gulf Beaches are Lee County's most attractive feature and are considered to be its number one economic asset.
In 2013, 4,797,933 visitors to Lee County made over $2.77 billion in direct expenditures and paid $28.6 million in tourist taxes! Without healthy beaches the vast majority of these tourists may not visit Lee County, which means our economy, local taxes and employment could be sharply impacted. Visit The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel tourism website to learn more.
Lee County works to attract new business and industry to our community. The coastal location and miles of white sand beaches are an extremely important asset in promoting our area as a site for business relocation. New business helps to diversify our economy and protect the community's future economic viability.
| Habitat... healthy beaches attract wildlife.|
Beaches in Lee County are home to thousands of animals which depend on healthy, sandy beaches and dunes. With over 33% of our beaches in a critically eroded condition, these habitats, and the animals that need them, suffer.
Beaches provide habitat for sea turtles, shore and wading birds, mollusks and other creatures, many rare, threatened or endangered. The continuing loss of beaches increases competition for remaining resources, reduces overall populations, and forces relocation outside of Lee County.
Sea turtle nesting in Florida has risen dramatically in recent years, in part to improved beach conditions and better management practices.
| Recreation... better beaches mean more fun.|
The quality of our beaches is a reflection of the quality of life in Lee County.
Beaches are the lifeblood of recreational activities in Lee County. Whether you are an angler, boater, sailor, swimmer, snorkeler, diver, sheller or sunbather, you benefit from healthy beaches.
Beaches are important infrastructure for recreation, and deserve the same care and attention as our roadways, parks, buildings and other public works.
| Management... preservation, restoration, nourishment.|
Education is the first step.
The goal is to effectively and wisely manage our beaches and coastal systems.
To make this happen, we need your help, your attention to the problem, and your willingness to help us assess the cost and benefits of various approaches to beach management.
Beaches affect our everyday lives. Healthy beaches fuel our tourist economy, which, in turn, benefits not only our livelihood, but our quality of life.
Not having beaches is not only a loss to all of us, but a loss to our children, and our children's children.