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Date of Issue: July 14, 2005

Early work on Cortez channel due soon

Preliminary clearing for the Cortez channel dredging project can begin any time now, but the dredging itself is not likely to begin until at least October.

That is to give the commercial fishermen of the historic village plenty of time to get their stone crab traps off the waterfront and out to sea.

Allen Garner, president of the village's prime mover Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, said that meanwhile there is plenty of work to be done, removing derelict boats and clearing areas in the FISH Preserve where the dredged material can go temporarily.

The boat channel along the waterfront from Star Fish Co. to the FISH Preserve will be cleaned and widened and deepened, probably by hydraulic dredge. That process requires a place for the machinery and a lane for the pipe that will carry the pumped spoil to the Preserve, as opposed to original plans for forms of dredging that would see the spoil hauled away in trucks, which is more expensive.  

Garner pointed out that the spoil will be mounded in the designated storage area while water drains from it, after which it will be hauled away for fill dirt or to a landfill or even, ideally, spread in the Preserve if it is clean enough.

The derelict boats and one rusted steel barge are at the east end of the channel, and their removal will give access to the small streams in the Preserve, it was pointed out.

Garner met last week with Manatee County officials and representatives of the West Coast Inland Navigation District, which will handle the dredging contract for the county. He pointed out that seasonal crabbing would clear crab traps from the shore if the job could wait a few weeks, and that item found agreement on all sides.

The county has authorized $325,000 toward the project, with WCIND to manage it. Most of the permits have been in place for two or three years.