Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Proposed ordinance targets items left at beach that interfere with sea turtle nesting

TREASURE ISLAND — Michael and Nancy Furlong enjoy their early morning walks on the beach.

But lately they've become the source of lots of consternation.

Portions of Sunset Beach on the south end of Treasure Island are littered with the metal skeletons of beach canopies, tents and cabanas left daily by beachgoers along with beach chairs, inflatable tubes and other beach paraphernalia.

"There's enough stuff to start a sporting goods store," Michael Furlong said. "It's getting worse and worse."

Aside from not being aesthetically pleasing, the Furlongs and other residents like Laurel Zimmer and Lexie Stolen say it's an unnecessary obstruction to nesting sea turtles, some who are making false crawls after failing to find a place to lay their eggs.

During one recent walk, Furlong said he and his wife found a loggerhead turtle nest in the middle of a row of eight or nine metal structures.

"How she found space to nest, I don't know," he said.

The Sunset Beach residents, fed up with the littering, are pushing the city to take action.

The grass roots effort, which began with a Facebook posting of the litter, has grown into a citizens movement.

"We made up fliers and gave (them) out to each house and then contacted our city commissioner," Zimmer said.

The group hopes the city will adopt an ordinance similar to one recently approved in Madeira Beach that prohibits leaving personal items overnight on the beach.

"This is a public beach," Nancy Furlong said. "It is not someone's own private back yard."

The "Leave No Trace" ordinance identifies personal property left overnight on the beach as a nuisance and violators can be fined up to $500.

Zimmer said much of the problem is caused by people who are just careless and others who aren't educated about the issue.

"It is arrogant righteousness on their part," she said. "It is pure laziness."

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has signs posted at most of the beach crossovers telling beachgoers about sea turtles and hatching season and asking that they remove cabanas and other items that might interfere with nesting.

But people just walk past the signs and don't pay any attention, Zimmer said.

Mayor Robert Minning thinks it is a matter of common sense, and that the city should require beachgoers to take their personal items home with them when they leave.

"I don't think it is appropriate for the city to let that stuff remain especially during turtle nesting season," Minning said. "I'm not sympathetic to the people who say it is too much of a bother to put the structures up and then take them down again. You can do that in less than 10 minutes."

City Manager Reid Silverboard said the city attorney has been asked to draft an ordinance to present to commissioners at their July 19 workshop.

The city's current abandoned property ordinance doesn't cover the beach items being left behind, he said.

The Madeira Beach ordinance has an exemption in it that Zimmer and others are hoping is left out of Treasure Island's. It allows beachgoers to store their items overnight as close to a dune or permanent structure as possible.

"We don't want the exceptions because they are still open to interpretation, and it's still an obstruction for turtles and other sea life," Zimmer said.

Proposed ordinance targets items left at beach that interfere with sea turtle nesting 06/30/16 [Last modified: Thursday, June 30, 2016 7:42am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after:Matt Andriese trying to put good finish on injury-marred season

    Blogs

    RHP Matt Andriese can't make up for the 2 1/2 months he missed due to a hip injury this season after getting off to a solid 5-1, 3.54 start.

    But he can use his last few outings to remind the Rays, and himself, of how good he can be.
    He did it the hard way Thursday, allowing three runs as four of the …

  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
[Times]
  3. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us

    Columns

    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on …

    A Fort Myers woman who'd recently undergone a double-organ transplant painted a sign that said, "HOT SINGLE FEMALE SEEKS SEXY LINEMAN TO ELECTRIFY HER LIFE" and sure enough, she got her power turned back on. [Photo from video]
  4. Florida education news: Makeup days, accountability, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    MAKEUP DAYS: The Pasco County school district alters the daily schedule of 11 schools to make up teaching time missed because of Hurricane Irma, avoiding the …

    With students back in school after Hurricane Irma, schools across Florida begin scheduling makeup days for missed classroom time.
  5. How visiting a scenic Cuban resort can help save green sea turtles

    Wildlife

    The Florida Aquarium has been collaborating with Cuba's National Aquarium since 2015 to help save coral dying throughout Caribbean waters.

    The beaches of Cuba's Cayo Largo are home to a large population of green sea turtle nests. The Florida Aquarium will lead eco-tours of Cayo Largo next year that will help protect the turtles and fund research.  [Avalon Outdoor]