Tuesday, January 21, 2020

New Mandate for Beach Committee


“Love Your Beach” monthly clean-up volunteers show their passion for a clean beach by picking up trash. Photos by Maria Lamb

“Love Your Beach” monthly clean-up volunteers show their passion for a clean beach by picking up trash. Photos by Maria Lamb

The newly renamed Beach and Coastal Resources Advisory Committee (BCRAC), formerly called the Beach Advisory Committee, has a new proposed mission:

The beach is key to Marco Island’s economic success. The health of Marco Island’s beaches and coastal resources are critical to the continued economic vitality of our city. The BCRAC was established to advise Council on issues related to protecting and preserving these important natural resources. Biggest Offenders

The flatness of Marco Island’s beautiful wide beaches results in the creation of ponding, puddles and algae formation. Periodic re-grading of our beaches is a constant process. Coastal Natural Resources, threatened species protected by Marco Island’s Protected Species Ordinance

The flatness of Marco Island’s beautiful wide beaches results in the creation of ponding, puddles and algae formation. Periodic re-grading of our beaches is a constant process. Coastal Natural Resources, threatened species protected by Marco Island’s Protected Species Ordinance

“The beach is key to Marco Island’s economic success.”

During the summer of 2016, the beach committee started a campaign for businesses along the beach to voluntarily switch to the use of biodegradable drinking straws. The results were short lived.

Burrowing owl

Burrowing owl

Many coastal communities have successfully passed ordinances banning the use of plastic drinking straws. Could a ban save Marco’s beaches?

The proliferation of plastic trash on our beaches is killing the “goose that lays the golden egg.” We all need to ensure that Marco’s beaches, its crown jewel, remain the number one economic driver for the community.

Coastal Resources

“The health of Marco Island’s beaches and coastal resources are critical to the continued economic vitality of our city.”

Newly added to the mission are “coastal resources,” and examples of coastal resources are: “water quality, protected species such as shorebirds, gopher tortoises, burrowing owls, fisheries, mangroves, dunes, sea grass, sand and mollusk, and echinoderms.”

Gopher tortoise Photos by Jean Hall

Gopher tortoise Photos by Jean Hall

Water Quality is top priority. Did you know that the beach committee successfully sponsored the passage of a fertilizer ordinance in March 2016? Enforcement of this ordinance is vital to prevent deadly chemi- cals from polluting our waterways.

Protection of Marco’s wildlife has always been at the core of the beach committee’s mission. The committee has developed partnerships with environmental groups such as Audubon, Rookery Bay and FWC on the protection of shorebirds year round. The new BCRAC is a sponsor of the new banding project for black skimmers for the 2018 nesting season.

Biggest threats to beach wildlife are dogs running loose on the beach, especially during nesting season, which can devastate a colony in minutes.

Educational Outreach Program

Launched in the summer of 2016, the educational outreach program promotes “beach etiquette” and respect of wildlife with school aged children, using its “Kids Guide to Loving our Beach.” The committee had successful presentations to groups at Camp Mackle, the Tommie Barfield after school program, and the Optimist Club Junior Leadership 2017 Summer Program. This program is funded by Marco Island Yoga to “educate our community and visitors of the importance of good beach stewardship.” The adult version of the program has been used in presentations to Condo Associations in 2016 and 2017.

Going Forward

This newly named committee, with its newer mission, cannot do it alone. The committee is looking to city and county government entities to enforce existing ordinances to keep our beaches clean, safe and to help protect precious coastal natural resources.

In its new mission, economic value is attached to the benefits of healthy coastal resources. Protecting them ensures the high quality of life for Marco Island residents and for the enjoyment of future generations.

Maria Lamb, Member
Beach and Coastal Resources
Advisory Committee , Marco Island

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