Industrious beavers, flooding causing headaches for Regatta Bay residents

Tom McLaughlin
Northwest Florida Daily News

DESTIN — Heavy rains and industrious beavers have been blamed for the most recent flooding issues in one section of the Regatta Bay development.

But homeowners in the areas around Windjammer Court and Maritime Court say water backing up onto their property has been a persistent and destructive problem for years that the well-to-do community's homeowners association has basically ignored.

"I've got 1.5 acres in the back of my yard and the water has consumed maybe half of it. We've lost land, we've lost shrubs. There are trees around our homes that are now dead," said Gary Harris of 410 Windjammer Court. "We've seen no sense of urgency."

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A contractor is working to remove beavers who have taken up residence in the wetland area that abuts the homes off Windjammer Boulevard in Destin.

He said the flooding impacts 40 acres and began with development of a section of Regatta Bay known as "The Preserve."

Harris said homeowners have been forced by lack of action on the part of the HOA or property managers to themselves contact agencies like the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Northwest Florida Water Management District for assistance.

"Our main goal was to ensure proper drainage, homes are not damaged and any loss of property is regained," he said.

Mike Kent, the owner/manager of Progressive Management of America, says he has heard the calls for help and has personally taken on the flooding problem.

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A contractor who does such things has been hard at work removing the beavers who have taken up residence in the wetland area that abuts the homes off Windjammer Boulevard. His work was step one of a process Kent said he believes can be completed with a single additional stride.

"We've hired a company called Green Energy to shoot jets of water at the dams," he said. "Their job is getting rid of the dams and the beavers." 

Harris produced an email he received from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection authorizing the removal of the beaver dams that "are causing flooding and altering the hydrology in the conservation easement" without a permit. 

But the email also warns that some restoration of the conservation easement behind Harris's home might be required if it is damaged during the removal process. 

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Should the second phase of the plan hatched by Progressive Management fail, Kent said a third front could be opened on the beaver removal battle. That one, he said, would require bringing in equipment to remove the dams.

"We think the second phase will do it," he said.

Kent said he believes by the end of November, Harris and his neighbors will be free of beavers and standing water.

But Harris, who referred to the local HOA board as "dictators," is skeptical.

"I don't believe one word that comes out of their mouths," he said. "I've been after them now for a year, and some other neighbors have been battling them for longer than that, one since 2016."