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Siesta group files federal lawsuit in response to Big Pass dredging proposal

Save Our Siesta Sand 2 has taken to the federal court system in order to prevent dredging that would be used to renourish Lido Beach.

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  • | 5:02 p.m. January 16, 2019
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Save Our Siesta Sand 2, a Siesta Key-based group working to end efforts to dredge Big Pass,  filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“This entire area has been significantly impacted over the course of this past year by devastating red tide algae outbreaks,” the complaint states. “Yet the (environmental assessment/finding of no significant impact) fails to include any mention of red tide and how this project will interface ecologically with the compromised marine environment as well as the disruptive impacts of the project to the local economy that is already suffering unprecedented economic losses in the wake of the red tide outbreak.”

Additionally, the group's complaint alleges that the dredging project would violate the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

The group first started preparing to take the Army Corps to federal court in October of 2018, and on Jan. 11, it filed with the help of attorney Jane West.

“The Corps illegally failed to take a hard look at the consequences this project will have on imperiled species as well as the impacts to the human environment, in particular, the local economy of Sarasota County’s beaches in the wake of one of the state’s worst red tide outbreaks,” West said in a statement. “This region’s marine species and local economy simply cannot afford to take another hit as a result of reckless permitting at the expense of our natural ecosystem.”

As of Jan. 16, SOSS2 had not yet heard a response from the Army Corps.

Last fall, less than two weeks after a judge dismissed another Siesta Key resident group's challenge to the proposed dredging of Big Pass, the island group filed a revised lawsuit regarding the project.

On Oct. 23, the Siesta Key Association and resident David Patten submitted an amended complaint that once again attempts to block the Big Pass dredge. The city of Sarasota and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are planning to use sand from Big Pass to renourish eroded portions of the Lido Key shoreline.

Although the city has obtained a permit from the state for the project, the complaint argues the dredging fails to comply with the city and county comprehensive plans. The Siesta Key Association believes the city is required to obtain permission from the county to proceed with the project.