An ordinance or 'educational campaign'? City leaders reluctant to join county crackdown on beach

beach cleanup
Kathy Harrison | The Log
Published: Friday, July 19, 2013 at 03:47 PM.

While the county may be tagging and removing items left overnight along the beaches of Okaloosa Island, some city leaders in Destin are not sure the same concept would work on Destin's beaches.

"I don't know if that's a practical thing to do," Councilman Jim Foreman told The Log. "You are not going to change behavior that easily. Most of the time it's either children, juveniles or one-time visitors."

County Commissioners recently added to regulations in county parks, prohibiting visitor from leaving personal items on the beach between the hours of midnight and 7:30 a.m. The changes affect Okaloosa Island and any Destin beach in unincorporated Okaloosa County, such as James Lee Park, near the Crab Trap. The majority of Destin's beaches are not affected by the ordinance, however.

In part, the ordinance reads "it shall be unlawful for beach chairs, umbrellas, tents, and other personal articles to be on the beach in such a manner that they interfere with beach maintenance, nesting turtles, emergency vehicles, or lifeguard's view of the water."

Jim Trifilio, coastal management coordinator for the county’s Tourist Development Council, told The Log that part of the problem with people leaving their tents and umbrellas on the beach is that it interferes with beach cleaning.

"Our problems with the beach cleaners are worse over there," he said of Destin's beaches, which tend to be more crowded than those on Okaloosa Island. "It's also problematic during turtle season."

Although the county is seeing a reduction in the amount of items left on the beach, Councilman Tuffy Dixon said Destin's beaches pose a different set of circumstances, since there are large portions of private beach in the city.

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