A Santa Rosa County ordinance states: “It shall be unlawful for items generally used for swimming, sunbathing, or beach recreation to remain on the beach between two hours after dusk and two hours after sunrise, except as otherwise permitted in this section. As used in this section, the phrase “items generally used for swimming, sunbathing, or beach recreation” shall include, but not be limited to, beach chairs, umbrellas, tents (including tent frames), hammocks, volleyball nets, picnic tables and tiki huts.” It goes on to state that no items should be left that would be injurious to the environment, or the health, safety, or welfare of the public. This means your trash.
In other words, leave only your footprints behind; leave no trace of you having been on the beach. Do we really need an ordinance to tell us that? Apparently we do.
Each month, the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center holds a trash bash. Volunteers come to the beach and pick up the trash items that were left behind. So far in 2015, volunteers have collected 1,059.93 pounds of garbage. Let me say that again, 1,059.93 pounds of garbage left on our beaches. That is more than a half ton of trash. And we are on a pace to exceed the total collection of 1,113.37 pounds of trash for all of 2014. In fact, the September trash bash will more than likely bring us close to the 2014 total.
Not only do we want our beaches to remain pristine for its beauty, but also for the safety of our nesting sea turtles and hatchlings. The items that are left behind can pose a serious danger to momma turtles coming on shore to lay her eggs. She could end up entrapped in debris, or the items could impede the little hatchlings as they make their way to the water.
Beach visitors, both local and out of towners, are excited to hear about or see a turtle nest on Navarre Beach, and some of the most popular social media videos are of local hatchlings making their way out of the nest. So, why not carry that excitement and interest over to cleaning up after yourself? It is really simple considering there are trash cans on the beach.
We are thankful for the 377 volunteers working with the NBSTCC’s trash bash program, and for the good citizens that pick up trash they see when they are at the beach. We would otherwise have more than a half ton of trash sitting on the beach.
The next beach trash bash will be held in conjunction with the International Coastal Clean Up on September 19 from 8 a.m. to noon. So plan to don your work gloves and join the volunteers to keep our beaches beautiful and safe. Maybe someday we won’t have to clean up after each other; visitors will do the right thing and use the trash cans provided for them.