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Protest offshore drilling at ‘Hands Across The Sand’

By Staff | Feb 8, 2010

Anyone and everyone is encouraged to join a human chain on Florida beachfronts at 1:30 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 13. That’s when ‘Hands Across The Sand,’ an event and an awareness which a group of state environmentalists created, will raise awareness about the pending Florida legislation to drill oil in our nearshore coastal waters.

Many state Gulf-side communities as well as towns on the east coast of Florida are also expected to participate in this action to show opposition and convince Governor Charlie Crist and other legislators to drop any and all legislation that would allow oil drilling as close as three to 10 miles off the Florida coastland, according to Event Coordinator Pat Titterington.

Titterington, who is an energy consultant for Fafco Solar Energy, will be on Fort Myers Beach and encourages all to join him. He hopes the line extends from the Lee County fishing pier to Lani Kai, but would like to see it longer. He can be reached by e-mail at pat@fafcosolar.com or by calling 424-0097.

“From the pier to the Lani Kai we will be there at 1 p.m.,” said Titterington. “At 1:30 p.m., we will literally hold hands, make a chain and hopefully get some photography coverage so that we can send photos to Tallahassee.”

On Sanibel and Captiva this Saturday, SCCF Biologist and Sea Turtle Coordinator Amanda Bryant is coordinating the islands’ Hands Across The Sand effort.

According to Bryant, participants on Sanibel are asked to gather at Bowman’s Beach; on Captiva, participants should meet at the Andy Rosse Lane Beach Access. Participants are requested to arrive early, at 1 p.m.

“Please bike to the beach wherever possible,” she added.

Parking for Bowman’s Beach is at the Bowman’s Beach parking lot. Please pay to park if you do not have an “A” or “B” parking pass and only park in designated parking areas. On Captiva, there is limited parking at McCarthy’s Marina on the bay side of Andy Rosse Lane.

“From 1:30 to 1:45 p.m., we will join hands in opposition to offshore drilling,” said Bryant.

Titterington also said Clearwater and Sarasota are some of the West coast beach community towns participating in the event. East coasts towns around Sebastian Inlet are also involved because oil drilling may occur on that coast as well. He encourages anyone who wants to raise awareness through this action can assemble anywhere along the coast – even if it is just 10 people standing on Bonita Beach. The picture he paints is grim.

“I think people come to the beaches for its natural beauty,” he said. “Without tourism, all these businesses on the Beach will be gone.”

Titterington explains what has happened along the coast of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi will occur in Southwest Florida if oil drilling occurs.

“The infrastructure that goes along with this is really going to be an eyesore,” he said. “Since the drilling is three miles away, you don’t see the dirt and silt. But, the silver pipes and valves and refineries are inland.”

Then there is the oil spillage to consider. While a spill along the coast of Mississippi dissipates into the Gulf, one oil accident in Southwest Florida is a different story.

“If we have an oil spill around here, it goes into the Back Bay, and it’s in those mangroves forever,” said Titterington.

Titterington and other environmentalists are hoping this organized, statewide coastal movement will bring thousands of the state’s citizens and visitors to the beaches for “metaphorical and actual lines” in the sand.

Many local organizations have passed resolutions to oppose offshore drilling in Florida, including SCCF, the City of Sanibel, Captiva Erosion Prevention District, Captiva Community Panel, Lee County Commission and the Lee County Tourist Development Council.

Hands Across The Sand is devoted to protecting the coastline and waterways from the devastating environmental effects of oil exploration and support industries. To join its mailing list or check on updates on event locations, go to www.handsacrossthesand.org.

(Executive editor Jeff Lysiak contributed to this story.)