Turtle Deaths Hinder Project in Walton and Okaloosa Counties

Sea turtle deaths are threatening restoration work along a stretch of beach in Walton and Okaloosa Counties here in northwest Florida.

Two turtles were killed last month during dredging work for the project. If a total of three turtles die, officials say the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could shut down operations.

To offset that risk, local officials have requested the project contractor install turtle trawlers to scoop turtles up and out of the way of the dredge and its equipment. The contractor is charging almost $4,000 additionally a day for equipment and monitoring.

Although nesting season doesn't officially begin until May 1, turtles have been spotted along northwest Florida coastlines since the beginning of March.

The restoration project will add 80 to 100 feet of width to about five miles of eroded beach in Walton County, and to over two miles in Destin.