County targets island beach trash

County targets island beach trash

County targets island beach trash

Leave No Trace Facebook page
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 10:31 AM.

After three public hearings and much discussion, Franklin County now has a law governing debris left unattended on St. George Island beach.

At the Aug. 5 county meeting, commissioners voted 4-1 to pass the “Leave No Trace” ordinance which creates rules about beach debris. Commissioner Noah Lockley opposed.

The main purpose of the law is to protect endangered sea turtles that nest on island beaches, but human safety and aesthetics are also factors in creating the new rules.

The new ordinance drew widespread attention. USA Today ran a news brief to announce it, and a chat room about the topic appeared on the popular travel-oriented webpage almost immediately after the law passed. One post warned, “This will not end well!” but eight other postings applauded the ordinance.

As the county hearing began, County Planner Alan Pierce displayed an online petition with more than 1,100 signatures collected in support of the ordinance. The packet presented to commissioners included photos of clutter on the beach.

The current version applies only to public beaches on St. George Island . County Attorney Michael Shuler explained the terms of the new law.

 “At this point the main issue is tourists on St. George Island ,” he said. “There was not a consensus from the public or the board on whether we should include both public and private property. This is a compromise so we can have an ordinance with the best shot of passing. We can always come back and you can expand it or contract it and amend it in whatever fashion the public and board think is appropriate.”

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