It doesn’t take long for anyone visiting Marco Island to find the great beaches. But it takes a bit longer to truly be aware of the beautiful and delicate environment they provide.
On Feb. 28, thirteen organizations assembled for a “Beach Awareness” event with a single goal – To promote awareness and respect of local beach rules and the conservation of wildlife. “It took 14 months to put this even together,” said Patti Miller, Chairman of the event. “We wrote up our goals and approached the city for funding assistance. One major obstacle was getting approval for the Coast Guard to be here. They are part of Homeland Security and some major red tape was involved.”
Carol Buckler is the Lead Ranger for Tigertail Beach, South Beach and all the boat ramps. “It’s my job to protect the natural resources of our beaches. This is how I can help enrich everyone’s experience while they enjoy the beach.
Ranger Buckler’s presentation included examples of what to watchfor, like the barb of a sting ray, and how to avoid conflicts with the native wildlife. She answered a lot of questions after her presentation which she saw as a good sign people were interested.
The Marco Island Police Department and other emergency services were well represented. They assured me there were still plenty of officers taking care of the city. “We patrol the beach and enforce the rules set up so people can enjoy their time on the beach,” said Officer Hector Diaz. “We really want everyone to have fun…and be safe.” Glass on the beach is prohibited and can be a huge hazard. It’s also a good idea to have your fishing license handy when making that first cast.
Joanna Fitzgerald from the von Arx Wildlife Hospital gave a presentation on how to deal with some wildlife issues. “I’m here to educate people regarding injured wildlife they may encounter on the beach. It’s important people knowwhat to do and who to contact if they encounter a wounded animal. We do our best to save as many as we can.”
Ruth McCann is the current Chairperson of the Beach Advisory Committee, the group in charge of the event. “We are very happy with the success today,” she said. “We hope to continue this event and are looking forward to getting some new projects started.”
In addition to the presentations made by participating groups, there was merchandise for sale, a t-shirt raffle, free water bottles and a lot more. It was a great experience on a perfect day. Everyone who stopped by and everyone participating came away with something. Which is a great indicator of success. Kelsey and Scott, a couple from Cape Coral, summed it up best. “It is fantastic to see how involved the county and city are with the people enjoying the beach.”
Enjoy the beaches – have fun! Just be aware. A lot of effort goes into making them such a great place to play.