Bay County to Vote on "Leave No Trace" Ordinance

By: Mark Vaughn Email
By: Mark Vaughn Email

If you like to take your tent or umbrella to the beach and then leave them behind when you leave, they could soon be thrown in the trash. Bay County plans to vote on a new "Leave No Trace" ordinance to combat the problem.

Bay County Commissioner Mike Thomas is bringing the issue before the board during the June 5th meeting. He says the county can no longer wait for the issue to resolve itself.

Beach-goers are leaving umbrellas, tents, and chairs behind on the beach and it's become more than just an eye-sore.

"Saw that we're going to have a worse problem this year , and if we didn't act now we'd just have a summer full of complaints again, and a beach that looks very trashy. We can't afford that," Thomas said.

This isn't the first time the city or county has tried to address the issue. Back in 2009 both planned to draft a blanket ordinance to remove leftover debris, but neither came to a vote. Thomas says they can't wait any longer.

"On the beach there's so many private beaches and so many open beaches that people can get to that the businesses can't keep a hand on it. So, unfortunately it's going to require some legislation I'm afraid."

South Walton officials adopted a similar ordinance in 2010, and they say it's working fine.

Walton Co. TDC Executive Director, Dawn Moliterno, said "We push information out through our lodging partners. We push it out directly to visitors. So I think that it is starting to resonate, and they're starting to understand that if they want to keep those beaches clean then they have to take part in it too."

South Walton resident Colby Hammon said, "When the sun is starting to go down it's clean, it's open. It's obviously different during the day when everybody's here. It's a huge difference."

If Bay County adopts the 'Leave No Trace' ordinance beach cleanup workers, already contracted by the Tourist Development Council, would remove anything left below the Dune Line after sundown.

Thomas added, "If you leave it tonight it's a beer can, or a bag of garbage, and we're going to move it for you."

Panama City Beach Mayor Gayle Oberst said the city hopes to draft an identical ordinance to vote on in the coming weeks.

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  • by just do it Location: PCB on May 30, 2012 at 07:31 AM
    One or two guys patrolling the beach can fix this. It's as simple as taking the name and address of the "tent dwellers", while they are on the beach. Leaving a number mark on the tent or canopy will ensure it's been checked. Offenders will trash the beach anonymously, but once they've been recorded, they're less likely to do harm to the beach. And, you can always bill them for the cleanup if they're stupid enough to leave their trash.
  • by Mike Location: Panama City Beach on May 30, 2012 at 04:44 AM
    I agree!!!; the beach services should also place their chairs back into their storage boxes,not just pads or umbrella's, they are in the way of cleanup also
  • by Warren Location: Atlanta on May 30, 2012 at 04:30 AM
    I'm all for it. There are also people who just leave the tent when they go home as well.If its on the beach at sunset it should go in the dumpster. I'm really tired of people who live elsewhere and and are not property owners come down and turn our beach into a public dump. I'm even in favor of an additional 1% bed tax to pay for cleaning up after them. I will take it a step further and suggest a $1000 fine for littering on the beach and I mean really ticket the hell out of people for doing it. If the kids are doing it make Mom and Dad pay for it. That will make them start watching their kids. Isn't it amazing how they can watch them to keep them from drowning but they never see them throw down that yogert wrapper.
  • by Anonymous Location: Fl. on May 29, 2012 at 09:17 PM
    They can start cleaning up (leveling first) all that nasty development too. I don't care if the condos are billion dollar condos, and the "owners" bought that area of the beach. The vast majority of the beach, as late as the 70's was wide open community property. Anyone could go or camp anywhere out there, and now it's an overly wealthy snobs retreat. And all the millions in hotels, condos, all of it just looks like garbage and industrial waste. Seriously, send the carpet baggers home and give the locals their pristine beaches back.
  • by beach guy on May 29, 2012 at 04:37 PM
    Im all for it, but how can you make this a law and allow the beach services to leave their equipment out there overnight? Seems like its a no brainer lawsuit to file against the county and city if you dont make them remove their property as well.
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