You know what they say about bad ideas, they never really go away. Cutting a pass at Navarre is a really bad idea for Navarre and all of Santa Rosa County. Ever so many years, some developers start salivating at the thought of building condos where we now have a huge park on the island.  Apparently some of them have captured Congressman Gaetz’s attention and in spite of the fact that the military is still opposed to the idea, Mr Gaetz and his cronies are pressing the issue.

Here are some of the most obvious reasons why dredging a channel from the Gulf to the Sound at Navarre Beach should trouble us deeply:

1. The salinity of the Gulf is around 35 ppt, which is considerably higher than in the Sound, especially here in Navarre where the closest openings to the Gulf are far away.  Salinity levels in estuaries vary but are usually far below levels in the Gulf. That heavier, saltier water will sit on the bottom and the less salty water will float above it, creating a “wedge”.  The result is little or no dissolved oxygen in the lower layer of the water and therefore little or no life.  Look at Perdido Bay and Destin Pass/Choctaw Bay for examples of what happens to estuaries after they are opened to Gulf waters.  The same will happen here. Instead of “flushing” the Sound as some like to claim a pass would do,  It could be the final nail in the coffin for Santa Rosa Sound.

2. It will stop the littoral drift of the sand, which moves from east to west along the Gulf shore.  When the county had a study done back in the 90’s, they found that a sand pumping operation would cost at least a million a year to operate.  You can multiply that by 5 or 10 since that was 20 or 25 years ago.  Without it, the western side of the pass would melt away.  At that time, the County contemplated giving the entire one mile of island on the east end – currently our park, to a developer in exchange for installing a pass and the cost of the sand transfer system and keeping it working in perpetuity would be left to us little tax slaves.

3. The remaining seagrasses we currently have in the Sound, will die fairly quickly if the saltier Gulf waters are brought in.  That means a lifeless Sound.  No grasses, no fish, crabs, etc.  With no grassbeds, which help slow the movement of water, there is nothing to slow down the ocean after it covers the island and heads inland during a hurricane. That means more inundation on the Peninsula and northward

4. Also, in a hurricane, the pass will be an invitation to huge storm surges to move right through the pass and into Navarre.  There will be nothing there to stop it or slow it down.  Acting as a speed-bump for storm surges is a major function of barrier islands and it makes no sense to destroy a protection that is provided to us free of charge.

5. A pass will bring more boats and with more boats you get more pollution – big pollution.  Again, look at the situation next door in Destin.  When that pass opened, pipes and pumps were installed to improve circulation due to high levels of bacteria, oils and grease, gasoline, etc.  More money and worse water quality.  If you would like to read about the measures the City of Destin has implemented as it continues to confront the pollution problems in the pass, here’s a link:

6. Finally, scientists make it clear that the ocean is going to rise in a big way over the next 10 years and beyond.  We can’t keep pretending that our low-lying county is not going to be affected.  We are already being affected by the slow rise that has been under way over the past 50 years – 6 inches already.  Does it make sense to encourage billions of dollars of new real estate development on a barrier island and a peninsula that are already in serious harms way?  I don’t think so.  We all pay when we encourage others to make bad choices – even if some people make a lot of money in the short term.

This is not a decision for a few politically powerful people to force down our throats.  Speak up tax-payers and voters – these pro-pass people want to get their hands in your pockets to pay for something that is unneeded, environmentally destructive, and still a bad idea after all these years.

Category: Coastal, Habitat

About the Author

Linda Young has been the executive director of the Clean Water Network of Florida since 1994. From 1989 to 1997, she founded and published a monthly statewide environmental newspaper. Over the past twenty three years, she has co-founded some of the most long-lasting and effective environmental organizations in the Southeast, including the Gulf Restoration Network, Gulf Coast Environmental Defense and C.A.T.E. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Southern Oregon University and a M.A. in Political Science/Campaign Management from the University of West Florida.

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