Group Tries To Halt Dredging of Big Pass in Sarasota, Fla.
The Lido Key shoreline renourishment project could have a significant negative environmental and economic consequences for Siesta Key , the nonprofit group argues.
The motion was filed on Monday in the United States District Court Middle District of Florida .
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The dredging project was set to begin Sunday, but it's unclear what impact the motion will have.
" The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has filed opposition to the request for the restraining order and we are waiting for the court to make a determination," said Spokesman David Ruderman
The planned dredging and sand "borrowing" from a shoal in Big Pass -- a primary navigational access point between the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota -- is part of the hurricane protection and storm damage reduction project on Lido Key.
The dredging project is one of the largest contemplated in the state of Florida and seeks to dredge up to 1.3 million cubic yards from Big Pass .
Because the project is considered "major federal action" under the National Environmental Policy Act, a comprehensive analysis of the effects must be thoroughly analyzed, Save Our Siesta Sand said in a news release.
A full environmental impact statement, or EIS, which can be required for this type of project, has not been completed in this area or surrounding areas since 1984, despite being specifically requested by Sarasota County in 2016, the news release said.
The dredging of Big Pass is in violation of the a myriad of federal laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, said Mark Smith , chairman of Save Our Siesta Sand 2.
"We are asking for the temporary restraining order before irreversible damage is done to Big Pass and the surrounding ecosystem," Smith said.
The 1984 environmental impact statement used for this project does not take into consideration numerous environmental issues and concerns, Smith said.
It fails to include considerations for specifically dredging Big Pass , consideration for impacts from groin construction and implementation, consideration for red tide -- and it specifically advised against hurricane protection measures such as this proposed project, he said.
Home to a variety of life including manatees and sea turtles, Big Pass functions as part of the Sarasota Bay Estuary, named an estuary of national significance by the U.S. Congress in 1989.
The nonprofit has argued in court that the project will impact water quality well beyond the immediate area, and may threaten the survival of marine life and mammals, inshore and nearshore habitat, and the coastal environment.
" The Army Corps' failure to comply with federal law in this case could be disastrous to those who love the Big Pass shoal, Sarasota Bay , Ted Sperling Park and Siesta Key ," Smith said.
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