‘Hands Across The Sand’ to protest drilling
Opponents of offshore drilling are organizing a protest on beaches across the state this weekend.
“Hands Across The Sand,” an event to raise awareness about pending legislation to allow drilling in nearshore coastal waters, is set for Saturday, Feb. 13, at 1:30 p.m.
Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel and Captiva Islands are among the areas where protests are planned.
Many state Gulf-side communities as well as towns on the east coast of Florida also are expected to participate to show opposition and convince Gov. Charlie Crist and state legislators to oppose any 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 the public 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 email@example.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, opponents to drilling maintain.
“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.
— Editor Jeff Lysiak contributed to this story.