Beach driving is prohibited on all but five Florida beaches.

Dear Editor,

Beach driving is prohibited on all but five Florida beaches.  Gulf County was one of five counties exempted from 1985 Florida legislation that severely limited beach driving.  This exemption was granted because of the lack of available off-beach parking, limiting public access to the beach.  Since then Gulf County has expanded public parking at Salinas Park, Cape Palms Park, by the Stump Hole and at the Stump Hole walkover, at Dunes Drive and in front of Ovation. There is now sufficient off-beach parking for visitors.

Some 739.3 miles of loggerhead sea turtle nesting beaches are being proposed for designation as critical habitat in the States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Gulf County is included in this designation. Sea turtles must have deep, clean, relatively loose sand above the high-tide level for successful nest construction. Beach driving causes serious ecological impacts by damaging and destroying dune vegetation.  It interferes with sea turtle and bird nesting.  Tire ruts have caused disorientation and impeded turtle hatchlings from reaching the surf.

Special management considerations and protections are essential to the conservation of endangered species. It is time to mitigate the negative effects of beach driving by closing the beach to all motorized vehicles except for emergency vehicles and state permitted activities such as turtle tagging and bird monitoring. 

We are all guests of nature.  Let us respect and protect our beautiful resource.

Nancy Thomson

Cape San Blas