Latest project news

Apollo Beach park reopens but dredging project hits snag


Special Correspondent
Published: June 24, 2015   |   Updated: June 25, 2015 at 08:07 AM

APOLLO BEACH – Area residents can once again fish, picnic and lob volleyballs at Apollo Beach Nature Preserve. However, beach combers and sunbathers will have to wait a few more months to enjoy the restored beach planned for the park.

The county-owned park at 6760 Surfside Blvd. reopened June 17 after being closed to the public since last November for a restoration project to prevent beach erosion.

Over the past 20 years, erosion stripped away sand at Apollo Beach’s only public beach, leaving behind a rocky berm. During the seven months the park was closed, the county spent $270,000 to level the berm, create upland sand dunes and construct seven 6- to 8-foot offshore rock barricades and a jetty to prevent erosion.

An army of 50 volunteers from Tampa Electric Co. also planted 10,000 native plants to stabilize the sand dunes.

With those preventive measures in place, the county plans to create a 2-acre beach by pumping 11,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the north, south and main channels located off Apollo Beach.

The channels have become choked with silt, making them unnavigable for boats with deep drafts, and over the past four years, the nonprofit Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group, also known as ABWIG, has raised funds to dredge the channels.

“We originally hoped to dredge the channels in April and May,” said ABWIG President Len Berkstresser. “But we’ve run into a problem with the low bidder on the dredging contract not honoring his bid. So after several weeks of trying to negotiate, we’ve decided to solicit new bids for the work.”

Berkstresser said ABWIG plans to hire a new dredging company this summer, begin the dredging project in mid August and complete it by Oct. 30. Because sand from the dredging project will be pumped to the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve to create the beach, the park will be closed again during the duration of the dredging project.

In addition to funding the dredging of the channels, Berkstresser said ABWIG needs to raise an additional $50,000 for channel navigation markers and lights, additional shoreline vegetation, miscellaneous engineering services and a reserve fund to pay for damaged pilings and lights. So far, the group has raised $25,000.

To help fund the navigational markers, ABWIG is seeking sponsors for pilings, navigational signs called “dayboards,” and a light on the jetty in the north channel.

Sponsorships are as follows: pilings, $500; dayboards, $200; and the jetty light, $750. The names of sponsors will be engraved on brass plaques affixed to the pilings, dayboards and light.

“A lot of people have already stepped up with sponsorships but there are many other dayboards and pilings available for sponsorship along the main and south channels,” Berkstresser said.

ABWIG also is collecting donations for an additional 3,510 native plants in the nature preserve.

“When the dredging is completed, we are required to replant the upland area of the Apollo Beach Nature Park to keep the sand in place,” Berkstresser said.

ABWIG, therefore, is seeking “patrons of the plants” to purchase 750 one-gallon containers of pink muhly grass, 1,000 one-gallon dune sunflowers, 750 one-gallon railroad vines and 1,000 one-gallon containers of sea oats.

Anyone interesting in sponsoring a channel marker can send a check to ABWIG, P.O. Box 3251, Apollo Beach 33572. Donors should designate which channel marker they’d like to sponsor and the information to be engraved on the plaque.

For information, on the project or any of the sponsorship opportunities, email or visit the ABWIG Facebook page at

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Apollo Beach Florida by Aerial Camera Drone – -Check out our piece of paradise from the air

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Head over to our facebook page

For the link to the latest quad copter view of the park


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Thank you for the support of our Surf and Turf Night Fundraiser


The ABWIG Board  would like to thank everyone who came out last night to the fundraiser at Circles to make it a memorable night.

  • Thank you to Circles, the food was delicious. 
  • Thank you to Crowd Pleaser for providing the music, you guys were great! 
  • Thank you to Hugh Moore for providing the wine tasting.

We had an anonymous donor who stated that they would pledge $1,000 IF we could match it with pledges last night and guess what  – – you stepped up and pledged $1,000! 

Again, we thank you for continuing to support the project.



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ABWIG Fundraiser in the news


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Apollo Beach Nature Park

According to Len Berkstresser, who had a conversation with Ross Dickerson, the Parks and Recreation Manager, park personnel are at the park this week getting it ready to open. The park will be open very soon!  Stay tuned for announcements from the Parks and Rec. Dept.   The park will remain open until the end of summer, around the time the kids go back to school.  Then it will close once again for dredging.

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A message from the Board

The Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group Board of Directors extends our deepest sympathies to the family of Kat Johnson, who passed away suddenly on May 22nd.

She and her husband, Keith were both volunteers for ABWIG.  Kat acted as our Social Media Coordinator and also arranged a fundraiser last month at Pita Kabob that was very successful.

We will miss her great suggestions, warm personality, and caring nature. Our prayers go out to Savvy and Keith at this most difficult time.

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Latest Project News

The ABWIG Board has been working diligently on a dredging schedule that would have had the Apollo Beach Nature Park reopen at the end of this month (May) with a new beach and deeper channels into and out of our community.  Unfortunately, negotiations over our dredging contract have not proceeded as quickly as we’d hoped, so the project has been delayed.  Let me assure everyone we have permits in hand, are eager to get started and are actively seeking resolutions that will allow us to proceed with dredging in the next month.

IF HOWEVER, we cannot resolve the contract issues, the Hillsborough County Parks Department has told us it is their intention to reopen the AB Nature Park quickly and then close it once again when we are ready to complete our segment of the project.

Know that everyone on the ABWIG Board wants the park/beach/dredging project successfully completed as soon as possible, just like the residents and beach goers do!!

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Be a Patron of the Plants

Please consider being a Patron of the Plants.  When the dredging is completed, we are required to replant the upland area of the Apollo Beach Nature Park that was used for the containment area.

There are a total of 3,510 plants of five varieties (listed below)  that must be replaced. The plants are what helps keep the sand in place. Those who donate to the Patrons of the Plants will receive recognition for their donation.

750 – 1 gallon, mature Pink Muhly Grass

muhly grass

1000 – 1 gallon, mature Dune Sunflower


750 – 1 gallon, mature Railroad Vine

railroad 1000 – 1 gallon, mature Sea Oats – Purchased from Green Seasons Nursery

sea oats10 – 1 gallon, mature Prickly Pear Cactus – Donated by a Friend of the Park!

prickly pear






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Mark Your Marker



 Believe it!  ABWIG is dredging the channels!  For details, check the Local Notices to Mariners or go to Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group on Facebook or our website,   Now is your chance to put your names on a gift to our town and boaters who enjoy our piece of paradise!

As the channel dredging and beach renourishment project closes, ABWIG is responsible for the aids to navigation marking the North, South and Main channels from the Bay to our interior waterways.  Sponsor one of these channel markers by making a donation and we’ll put your name on that marker!  Sorry, the plaque has no lifetime guarantee but your donation to ABWIG is guaranteed to improve our waterways!

The channel markers along the North Channel will be installed along a new, deeper route after dredging.  Channel Markers #1 and #2 are sponsored by Becky D., Sally M., Pat A., Melissa N., Steve N. and Aixa M.  The light on the jetty, several pilings and many dayboards on the North Channel are available.  Mark “your” marker!   


The dredging route will run inside the channel markers along the Main and South Channels, so these will remain in place, marking the deep channels after dredging, but you can still pick “your” channel marker, make your donation, and we’ll put your name on that marker for all to see!  Boaters who transit the Main and South Channels, please help ABWIG mark these deep, navigable channels!


The #1 and #2 markers at the entrance to the Main Channel have been designated for the Tampa Sailing Squadron’s $2500 donation but many dayboards and pilings are available along the Main and South channels.





1 LIGHT – $750 for the light on the jetty in the North Channel

PILINGS – $500.00 for each piling

DAYBOARD – $200 or more for each dayboard – 2 dayboards on each piling


Mail your check to ABWIG at PO Box 3251, Apollo Beach, FL  33572.  Please enclose a note, designating your donation for a channel marker and give us your phone number so we can contact you for details about your name and “your” channel marker.


Names of all donors to this post-dredging fund will be publicized, unless you wish to remain anonymous.  Memorial donations are encouraged.


Help ABWIG to restore navigable channels into Apollo Beach

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