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Fourth Of July Weekend Kicks Off Clean Beaches Week

July 1, 2009

~State’s beaches provide environmental, recreational and economic value~

florida-beachTALLAHASSEE - Recognizing the importance of beaches to Florida’s marine environment, tourism industry and the economy, Florida Governor Charlie Crist is recognizing July 1 through July 7 as Clean Beaches Week. Florida is home to 825 miles of sandy beaches making the Sunshine State one of the top travel destinations in the world. Approximately 85 million tourists contribute $65 billion to the state’s economy each year, many of them enjoying the beautiful beach environments.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is also reminding Floridians to do their part to keep our beaches clean so Floridians and tourists alike can enjoy one of our most precious natural resources.

clean-beaches-week-1“We are fortunate to live in a state of such natural beauty,” said Deputy Secretary Mimi Drew. “Most Floridians are only a short drive to a beautiful sandy beach. As you enjoy this Fourth of July weekend respect the environment by leaving the beach the way you found it to keep our beaches among the best in the world.”

By using the following tips, everyone who enjoys the beach can take part in keeping the beach clean and safe. While packing a holiday beach picnic, make sure you bring an extra trash bag and take your trash home with you.

  • While most public beaches have trash bins, inevitably some trash can blow out of the bins, so it’s best to take the trash home and properly dispose in your own garbage. If you see trash on the beach, don’t hesitate to pick it up. Beverage cans and lids can not only be an environmental hazard but also can be deadly for wildlife.
  • Boaters should always pack an extra trash bag or two when going to the beach or outing.
  • Pick up after your pet while on the beach to protect water quality.
  • Don’t feed wildlife such as shore birds.

clean-beaches-week-2Florida beaches are consistently ranked in Dr. Beach’s Top 10 list including several beaches that have topped the list this decade such as Caladesi Island State Park, near Dunedin (2008),

Fort DeSoto Park, near St. Petersburg (2005) and St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Port St. Joe (2002). Dr. Beach conducts an annual survey evaluating beach quality on 50 different factors, such as water color and temperature, sand color and softness, public access and area wildlife and vegetation.

The state of Florida also spends millions of dollars each year on beach nourishment and restoration efforts. Projects that are approved help increase public access to the beach with additional parking spaces and boardwalks.

“DEP’s Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems will continue work to restore and nourish one of Florida’s greatest assets, our beaches,” said Michael Barnett, Director of Beaches and Coastal Systems. “DEP presently has nearly 70 million dollars invested in projects to improve our beaches.”

As a testament to the success and value of the state’s investment in beach and coastal protection efforts, the Clean Beaches Council recognizes more than 40 of Florida’s renowned beaches as Blue Wave Beaches, based upon their water quality, cleanliness, safety, services and maintenance, conservation efforts, warning and information systems, and management of erosion.

Florida’s beach and dune system acts as the first line of defense during hurricane season. Beach nourishment significantly reduces damage to structures by increasing their distance from the shoreline and providing a buffer to dissipate possible wave energy. Wide sandy beaches reduce the impacts of storm surge and provide wave attenuation reducing structural damage. Since 1999, Florida has invested almost $350 million to restore Florida’s shoreline, and to date, more than 208.6 miles of beach have been restored and maintained through the state program.

To learn more about the state’s beach and coastal protection efforts visit: www.dep.state.fl.us/beaches.

View Governor Crist’s Clean Beaches Week proclamation at: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2009/06/files/clean_beaches_week.pdf

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