FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 30, 2012
DEP, COLLIER COUNTY OPEN ISLES OF CAPRI PADDLECRAFT PARK
~First-of-its-kind park in Naples through DEP, Collier partnership~
(From left to right) Greg Munson, DEP Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration; Randy McCormick, Rookery Bay Reserve Assistant Manager; Barry Williams, Collier County Parks & Recreation Director; Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala; Gary Lytton, Rookery Bay NERR Director and Collier County Manager Leo Ochs particpate in a ribbon cutting for Isles of Capri Paddlecraft Park.
NAPLES – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), along with Collier County officials, today celebrated the opening of the Isles of Capri Paddlecraft Park. This park represents a key partnership in opening the county’s first public access paddle craft launch while providing continued preservation and protection to Florida’s natural resources.
DEP Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration Greg Munson joined the festivities at the park, which included a ribbon-cutting, facility tour, music and remarks.
“I am excited by this project, which is protecting Florida’s precious coastline by restoring valuable mangrove forest habitat while still offering Floridians access to one of Florida’s most beautiful natural resources,” said Deputy Secretary Munson. “This project is a great example of a successful partnership between the state and local governments to protect our environment and better serve our citizens.”
A cooperative agreement between DEP and Collier County allows Collier County Parks & Recreation to manage the park’s day-to-day activities, while DEP's Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) staff will continually monitor and assess water quality at the site.
The Isles of Capri Paddlecraft Park is located on a 10-acre site located within the reserve. Originally intended to be a hotel and 50-slip marina, the land was purchased by the State of Florida in 1998. In 2003, RBNERR staff designed and constructed an altered mangrove forested wetland using grant funds awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Staff then completed a project design for public parking, restroom facilities and a paddle craft launch, where residents and visitors can use kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and other paddle craft. Construction began in 2009.
The park provides public access to McIlvane Bay, a shallow mangrove fringed bay that provides great opportunities for wildlife viewing. Hours are sunrise to sunset and the cost is $4 per paddle craft.
Collier County Manager Leo Ochs, Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala and other county employees attended the ceremony.
“I want to applaud the partnership between the State, DEP's Rookery Bay, and Collier County’s Parks and Recreation Department that made this park possible,” Ochs said. “Not only have you established protections for an important and environmentally sensitive area, you’ve provided the public with much needed access to a part of Florida’s ecosystem that many never get to experience.”