Carrabelle will install fencing at the southern end of Gulf Beach Drive within the next two weeks.
On Friday, Carrabelle city staff met with Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) representatives to discuss the management plan for McKissack Beach.
Carrabelle has leased the beach from the DEP and is required to create a management plan for the public beach.
City Attorney Dan Hartman said the meeting was preliminary. He said the city has filed a proposed management plan with DEP.
He said the main topic discussed was how to control, in both the long and short term, vehicles illegally driving on the beach. Hartman said DEP told the city to erect temporary fencing across Gulf Beach Drive within two weeks.
City Administrator Courtney Millender said that while DEP requested orange webbing of the type used at road construction sites, she hopes to install something more durable.
“Residents (of McKissack Beach) have been complaining about vehicles on the beach for 20 years,” Hartman said. “Now that the city has a management plan, we are ultimately responsible for that property. We are bringing ourselves into the role of protecting that property. Now we are the entity (the residents) complain to.”
Hartman said in the past, complaints about vehicles on the beach were routed to the sheriff. He said the city and DEP discussed measures the city might take to enhance county enforcement.
Hartman said that although the city has submitted a management plan for the property to DEP, there would be many more workshops to tweak the plan and take public input.
“The point now is to block off where they are entering to drive to the point,” said Hartman. “The DEP feels if access to the dunes is removed, (the dunes) will rebuild on their own over time.”
Hartman said it was optimistic to believe blocking Gulf Beach Drive would solve the problem of beach driving and damage to the McKissack dunes. “All we can do is try to control the parts that we have control over,” he said.
He said stormwater running down Gulf Beach Drive from US 98 was also a factor in the destruction of the dunes.
Hartman said drivers will still have at least two other access points to McKissack Beach that are on private property.
Residents of McKissack Beach wrote to DEP requesting automobile traffic be barred from the beach and dunes. They say they don’t want to deny access to a public beach, but do want to protect the dunes from automobile traffic.