The Oslo Road boat ramp has been around for decades. While no channel has ever been dredged past a couple hundred feet in front of it, modern channel markers do exist through the shallow seagrass beds out to the intracoastal waterway (ICW). The ramp itself was replaced with a modern version several years ago, and the road is made of locally mined, natural crushed rock and shell (which is what Florida is made of). The ramp was historically designed as a local facility to launch small john boats and canoes with very shallow drafts. Over a decade ago, the surrounding area along the road was purchased with Florida Forever funds to preserve the area in its existing, mostly natural, condition.
A number of years ago, Indian River County applied for an Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) permit to fill in surrounding wetlands for an expanded boat launching facility. Over an acre of wetlands were proposed to be filled for a larger ramp, a wider paved road with parking lot, bathrooms, and a water retention area. The proposal also included dredging a channel and constructing a fishing pier. The justification was that there was no decent boat launching facility on the west side of the Indian River Lagoon in Indian River County.
This proposal received an unprecedented amount of opposition from the community (see two Corps letters, Oslo Road bullets, and 2014 Commission Comments), as well as the reviewing entities and agencies (additional letters). Environmental concerns were immense, and the justification for the project seemed unwarranted since the County currently has twice the recommended amount of boat launching facilities per number of residents, as recommended by the State of Florida.
At the last County Commission meeting dominated by this project, in October 2014, over twenty people gave public comment against it and the meeting lasted over 10 hours. The Commission Chamber was “standing room only” and twelve PhD scientists gave testimony about how this project was going to have an unacceptable negative effect on the Indian River Lagoon that has been under so much stress in recent years. Due to an overwhelming negative response from the public and others, the County Commission voted to “table” the project for three to five years.
Recently, one of the County Commissioners proposed a scaled back project for consideration. That proposal included adding some existing channel markers, dredging “muck” within a couple hundred feet of the boat ramp, and adding asphalt millings to the road. One of the biggest concerns with this latest proposal is “piece mealing” in the larger project over a number of years, with this latest proposal being the first step. Please read the 2017 Commission Comments for details of concerns.
Things to remember are as follows: