In last week’s edition of The Star, a reader wrote about the ecological effects of driving on the beach and the effects it has on the local sea turtle population. The reader put out a call to close beaches to vehicles. The subject had even been discussed last week by the Tourist Development Council with mixed reactions. Our online readers responded.
“Cape San Blas and Indian Pass beaches have been a part of life in Gulf County since the early 1900's. Many families used these beaches as recreation and a way to supplement food for themselves. Now that real estate buyers have come to Gulf County it seems as though all the rich want to develop the beaches and use them as their own little recreational playground.
They want those with less money to go elsewhere for fun. These Homeowners knew there was driving on the beaches before they bought land and built houses. Driving on the beach does no more harm than those who light up the beaches at night, dig huge holes on the beaches, leave their trash, gather sea oats and other plants to take home, etc. etc.
These Beaches are an attraction for people to come to the county or for those already living here to provide the county with a way to make money from those buying ice, food, fishing supplies and other goods to spend the day with the family enjoying what God has provided.
So I say to those who own property on these beaches and want to keep it all to themselves either enjoy what you have and don't be so selfish. Learn to share and enjoy God’s Country…or move back home.”
“I grew up as a child enjoying that beach from the back of Billy Quarles' Jeep, and have been a conscious user and preservationist of that beach for my entire life, protecting it from a lot more than turtles.
You apparently don't understand a lifestyle that goes back far beyond the time you were allowed to build your house on that precious sand. Close the beach to driving for everybody?
I think not.”
“I love St. Joe folks. We stand by what we believe in. The Cape folks pay most of the county's taxes. Some of them are quick to say it too. I believe they knew that before they purchased it.
I’m sorry but I pay for what I buy and don’t complain when I buy more than what my neighbor does and in turn my taxable amount is more. I appreciate your tax money, I appreciate the business you bring to our county but don’t try to change our way of life.”
“I lived on the Gulf side of Cape San Blas for about 9 years back in the 90's. I was even part of the "Turtle Patrol", trained by Barbara Eells.
Even as a property owner at the time, it didn't bother me for people to drive on the beach. I was raised in Gulf County and "locals" driving on the Cape was a privilege we accepted and enjoyed. I remember my dad driving us on the beach from Indian Pass all the way around to the tip of the State Park, before the fence was put up. There was only one house on Cape San Blas other than the ones for the Light House keeper.
Sometimes we would camp on the beach for a week at a time. We saw sea turtles crawling up to the dunes to lay eggs and back into the water. It was fascinating to watch. Us being there didn't seem to stop their mission!
The hatchlings instinctively know how to reach the water. When I was on the turtle patrol, the only hazard I saw for them on the nights they hatched, was ghost crabs, raccoons, sea gulls, or possibly a storm surge that reached the nest before it was time to hatch.
I could understand keeping traffic off the dunes, but driving on the beach is harmless! God put it there for the enjoyment of all the people, not just the property owners and wildlife who happen to reside there!”
Former Gulf County Resident, LuLu McInnis Formby
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