Dredging of the pass, the entrance to Gulf of Mexico from Destin, started last weekend and is expected to be complete in four to six weeks.

It’s a win, win.


Not only is the dredging of East Pass in Destin clearing out sand to make it more easy for boaters to navigate, but the sand is being used to restore the beach along Holiday Isle.


"Getting the pass dredged promotes economic prosperity for our fleet," said Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis, who is also a boat captain.


FEB. 14, 2020: East Pass dredging work is finally on tap


Dredging of the pass, the entrance to Gulf of Mexico from Destin, started last weekend and is expected to be complete in four to six weeks.


The cost of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-led project will be paid for with $1.5 million in federal money and at least $500,000 in county bed-tax revenue.


The last time the pass was dredged was in 2014. In the last couple of years, the Corps of Engineers agreed to dredge the East Pass, but then reneged on its commitment, sending dredging contractors to other projects.


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But for now, dredging is underway in Destin.


"Safe passage is the biggest issue. They will be restoring the channel to where it was originally designed," Jarvis said, which was 20 feet.


Jarvis said the pass had gotten so bad that it was only 6- to 9-feet in some spots.


FEB. 3, 2019: Dredging/beach project faces new hurdles


"There were days when it wasn’t too rough to be in the Gulf fishing, but it was so rough at the mouth of the pass that our charters were losing their trips ... because you couldn’t safely get across the bar," he said.


Plus they will be getting rid of the "shoaling over by the west jetty that was very hazardous," he said.


Another upside to the dredging project is that will help solve an erosion problem on Holiday Isle.


MARCH 11, 2019: Without Corps, dredging may cost more


"The particular timing of this dredging is crucial for them as well. Some of those properties were in jeopardy of serious property loss," Jarvis said. "It’s a win, win.


"Our fleet, our maritime traffic as well as our Coast Guard will be able to transverse that pass safely. And at the same time we’re being able to address the beach erosion over on Holiday Isle. "So it’s huge ... it’s a big deal."


The folks at Jetty East Condominums along Holiday Isle are glad to see the dredge as well.


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"We’re thrilled," said Lynn Krupa, president of Jetty East.


"Everybody is anxious and just enjoying watching the process," Krupa added. "It’s amazing that they can do this."


Krupa explained that storms in the last several years have eaten away at their beaches and protective dunes.


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"This means protection ... it means that we’ll have something to protect us from big waves and storms and have a place for our guests to enjoy the beach, and produce those tax dollars that help all of Destin and Okaloosa County," she said.


"Jetty East is very thankful to Kelly Windes and all of the county commissioners, Mayor Jarvis and all of the Holiday Isle people that fought for the renourishment," she added.


Jarvis said places like Jetty East on Holiday Isle were getting desperate.


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"It was getting critical for millions and millions of dollars worth of property that was in jeopardy," Jarvis said. "... A lot of our tourism and bed tax comes off of Holiday Isle and a large portion of our property taxes that keeps everybody else’s taxes low," he said.


Another side benefit will be more public beach access from the renourishment line to the water line.


How far down the beach will the renourishment go?


MARCH 6, 2019: Destin East Pass dredging project looks like a go


"It depends on how much sand we get out of the pass," Jarvis said.


Plus weather may play a factor in the process. The dredge is earmarked for four to six weeks, and if Destin gets hit with a lot of bad weather and the project gets put on hold the pass might not get completely dredged.


"I’m rooting for good weather," Jarvis said.