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New island to sprout off Eastpoint

In addition to the ease of shoreline access that an upcoming
dredging of the Eastpoint channel will provide, the waters of the Apalachicola
Bay are about to grow a new island.

Made up of dredge spoils from the channel dredge, which is
slated to begin within the next several weeks, the island will be about 26
acres, roughly the size of seven football fields.

“Its ultimate use has not been discussed,” said former
County Planner Alan Pierce, who has shepherded the dredge project. “It will be
left open space.”

Pierce, who has been vexed by repeated delays in the Army
Corps of Engineers’ timetable for the dredge project, managed to avoid any
further ones at the Nov. 16 county commission meeting. He informed
commissioners the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was now
seeking a formal agreement as to whose island it would be.

“The state said ‘We’ll give you permission to build off our submerged
land, but somebody’s got to own it and take care of it,’” Pierce said.

Commissioners quickly agreed to adopt the island as its own,
and the paperwork is now in process for DEP to grant Franklin County an
easement as it moves forward with the final steps of permitting the project.

“Commissioner Ricky Jones has told me he has gotten verbal assurance
from DEP that the permit should be issued even if the easement is now quite resolved,”
Pierce said.

Once underway, the Eastpoint dredge is one piece of a
two-part $6 million project that also includes dredging of the Two-Mile Channel
alongside Apalachicola.

The portion that runs the entire length of the Eastpoint
channel, from Barbers Seafood on the east and all the way past the county boat
ramp on the west, will run $3 million, with the Corps paying two-thirds of that
out of its congressional allocation. The county will cover the remaining $1
million out of its portion of the 23-county Gulf Consortium money, which comes
from Florida’s receipts of billions it received in its successful suit against
BP following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The $3 million cost of the Two-Mile dredge will be paid for
entirely out of the county’s consortium money. Pierce estimated that each of
the 23 affected Florida counties will get about $11 million over a 15-year

He said the new island, attached to an opening of the breakwater
into the bay, will look similar to the spoil islands that now exist off the Two
Mile Channel. “Those islands now have a full stand of pine trees. You would have
thought they had been natural islands,” Pierce said.

He said following the dredge, which should take less than
two months to complete, the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve
will oversee work in the spring by the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten
Coast to plant vegetation.

“We’re buying material for them to plant,” Pierce said. “The
key is how sandy will the substrate be? It might be brownish muck but we won’t
know until it (the dredging) is done.”

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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