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Used beyond its capacity

By Staff | Jun 4, 2009

To the editor,

Prevent public accesses to Sanibel’s sanctuary city and conservation beaches, becoming state-regulated “Florida Public Recreation Beaches.”

The State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Senate Bill #488 Amendment, affecting all coastal cities, may pass June 2009 or later. Environmental protection for beach conservation is omitted. The Senate Bill #488 Amendment purpose is greater public opportunity for “traditional beach recreation” …whatever that is. The Amendment requires governments to provide the State with a list of all beach accesses to provide greater public entry, especially at dead end streets which are vulnerable to becoming public bus-stops.

Sanibel’s traditional sanctuary beach recreation is beachcombing, enjoyment of observing native dune vegetation, wildlife habitats and nesting as well as migratory birds, insects- especially butterflies and dragonflies and marine creatures.

The City of Sanibel Land Development Code and Gulf Beach Zoning based on conservation preserves natural systems. Sanibel LDC, listing specific permitted “passive recreation” activities, seems insufficient now, if or when SB Bill Amendment #488 passes. How will Sanibel City Council act to create legislation for a beach access ordinance and standards which prohibit daytime recreational disruptions?

Specify human activitites harmful to coastal plants, birds and wildlife, reptiles and/or rmarine animals. (Already the city has beach regulations for motorized vehicles and machinery, fireworks and campfires, alchohol consumption, commercial venders and nightime beach obstructions.)

Include prohibiting such “traditional beach activities” as bicycling, excavating and leaving deep holes, volleyball, mega events, furniture, tent abd rental-boat installations, dog beach designation/destination, small children chasing birds and para-sailboating on/off the shore (Lighthouse Beach).

Many day-visitors come to Sanibel for, as our City Manager calls it, “Popular Free Actives” – the bike paths and beaches. The Florida Senate proposed Public Beach Accesses Bill #488, Sec. 161.80-Recreation Definitions is oppositional to the Economic Assumptions in 2007 Sanibel Plan:

“Sanibel’s appeal is the vital wildlife, open beaches and a tranquil ambiance. Environment is now being used beyond its capacity. This level of use is not sustainable.”

Hazel Schuller