County mulls ‘leave no trace’ turtle law

Loggerhead turtle leaving the surf to nest

Loggerhead turtle leaving the surf to nest

Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 02:48 PM.

A “leave no trace” law to further protect sea turtles by banning stuff from being left on beaches overnight is under consideration before county commissioners

On Oct. 1, commissioners held a public hearing to discuss an ordinance to ban unattended “holes in the sand” and recreational equipment from county beaches at night.

The ordinance proposed at the meeting prohibits obstructions on all county beaches. It requires a sign be prominently posted in each short-term rental unit warning that items left unattended on the beach between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. will be considered abandoned and become the property of the county. They would be confiscated by police or other county employees and taken to the landfill.

County Attorney Michael Shuler said the ordinance was meant to protect sea turtles, and enhance and develop tourism. He said both public and private beaches would be regulated by the ordinance.

Bruce Drye, marine turtle permit holder for the island, said obstructions on the beach are a problem that is increasing every year. “Visitors that walk our beach at dawn don’t see the beauty, they see the clutter,” he said.

Eastpoint resident Liz Sisung asked what the program would cost.

Parks and Recreation Director Nikki Millender said her employees patrol the beach seven days a week looking for trash. Tthey make daily trips to the landfill and could add enforcement of the law to their existing duties, she said.

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