2015 was a big year for our county’s beaches. From Cape San Blas to Port St Joe, a “Leave No Trace” ordinance was issued as a way to educate both locals and visitors alike on how everyone can do their part to help preserve our beautiful stretches of coastline for future generations.
The ordinance can be boiled down to 12 simple words: Anything you bring to the beach should leave the beach with you. From now on, if you do not adhere to this very simple rule, any personal item left on the beach longer than one hour after posted sunset times will be removed and disposed of.
Other rules in the Leave No Trace ordinance include:
- Digging holes. If you dig a hole or build a sandcastle, simply make sure to fill in the hole or flatten out your creation before you leave the beach.
- Bonfires. Bonfires are allowed in designated areas. Make certain that your bonfire is at least 100 feet away from any structures and follow basic fire safety rules. You are only allowed to burn natural wood and you must extinguish and clean up your fire when you are done.
- No trashing the beach. This is pretty much a no-brainer, but pick up and dispose of ALL of your trash in designated disposal areas and receptacles. Leave all containers and bottles made of glass at home.
There are other common sense rules that everyone should follow, whether or not they are part of this new ordinance.
- Every year, our sea turtle friends come back to the beaches to lay their eggs and the resulting teeny tiny babies face an absolute perilous journey to make it into the water. We all need to make sure we never make that journey any more difficult for them then it needs to be! Please take care to follow these simple guidelines help ensure their safe passage. Please do not disturb any of our other wildlife neighbors as well.
- Stay off of dune areas and out of any sea oats; it’s important to our beach’s ecological preservation to leave these natural barriers and filters intact. Fines may be leveled for violations of these rules.
- Be sure to clean up and keep control over any pets, in designated pet areas.
- Be sure to be careful when boating or operating any vessels near the shore. Stay away from sensitive areas. If you get grounded, get out and walk your boat back into deeper waters.
- If you are planning to do any shore fishing, make certain that you have the proper license to do so. These are easily obtained from many nearby vendors and outfitters
Remember, these rules and ordinances are meant to protect our beaches, wildlife AND our beach-goers. There is plenty of signage around to remind everyone about what to do and not to do. The presence of all these signs will also help in potential emergency situations, as they have number that will act a reference point for emergency responders to the area quickly
One more important rule – ENJOY YOUR DAY AT THE BEACH.
Oh, and Leave No Trace of a nasty sunburn on your skin! WEAR SUNSCREEN and reapply often!