After facing years of intense opposition from the Everglades Law Center, its clients, and, ultimately, members of Congress, the Port of Palm Beach announced last month that it was abandoning plans for a deep dredging project that had been in the works for more than a decade. The $90 million dollar project, a joint proposal of the Port and the Army Corps of Engineers, would have significantly deepened and widened the Inlet channel and posed a major threat to manatees as well as fishing, diving, and recreation near the Inlet and Peanut Island. Beginning in 2014, we submitted detailed comments and expert reports to the Corps and other agencies. We campaigned to educate local, state, and federal leaders about the harmful effects of the proposed expansion, including destruction of coral reefs, seagrass beds, manatee habitat, and nearby fishing and diving sites. Congress authorized the project but in the face of huge local opposition the Corp’s planning efforts were never finalized and the project remained stalled. In abandoning the deep-dredge components, the Port recognized its location at the heart of a thriving recreational and eco-tourism industry and the lack of need to deepen the Inlet channel.
While abandonment of the harmful Federal project is a huge victory for the local environment and growing recreational economy, the Port has indicated that widening the Inlet channel near Peanut Island and other expansion efforts are still on the table. We remain engaged on this issue to ensure the protection of the abundant environmental, recreational, and economic resources in this area.
Read more about this decision in the Palm Beach Post.