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Water-Related News

Sand Storm: Should Army Corps replenish Lido Key with sand from Big Pass?

lip on a pair of swim goggles, duck underwater at Big Pass, and you’ll see what appears to be a barren planet with a bleached-white surface. At first glance, it looks just like any other sandy bottom along Florida’s coasts, but the sand on this seafloor is one of nature’s rarest creations and a geological marvel.

It’s the same sand that blankets nearby Siesta Public Beach and is beloved by beachgoers, the same sand that has brought international recognition and millions of dollars to Sarasota County. Immense quantities of it lie at the bottom of Big Pass, comprising a hidden treasure of immeasurable value, one that sparks passion and determination in those who wish to possess it.

That glittery white powder has touched off a fierce fight, pitting key versus key, city versus county, resident against resident, the federal government against dissenting citizens; and it may soon enlist lawyers as well. The combatants are armed with geological surveys, scientific studies, financial reports, propaganda and furious conviction.

In the simplest terms, their struggle is about where that precious sand will go. But to know where it might go, one must understand how it got here.