People were very happy when Ft. Pickens reopened to the public and many people have been taking time to visit the old fort, enjoy the beaches, and do a bit of fishing from shore.
Unfortunately, people who do not respect our beautiful island have been given the same access to these pristine areas which have rebounded with wildlife in the years the park has been closed. Now, in addition to the elegant herons, osprey, and playful dolphin, I'm also seeing large amounts of trash.
On the Sunday morning Ft. Pickens patrol there is always more trash than I can possibly pick up in my Mule. Plastic bags are everywhere - some full of trash, others blowing around on the sand until they end up in the Gulf of Mexico or Santa Rosa Sound.
A large percentage of the trash I pick up is plastic bottles.
Oddly, I've been finding a lot of fireworks. At the site of the photo above I picked up around 60 pieces. About half were bottle rockets. The other half were larger displays. Is there any wonder the poor sea turtles are frightened away from shore when they are looking for an area to nest?
Empty packaging of the smaller fireworks are strewn about also.
Some people are wonderful about picking up after themselves and even go out of their way to help when they see trash left behind by others. They are setting a good example for the next generation. Still, it's sad to realize there are other people who have such little regard for our environment.
If you are interested in Ocean Conservancy or would like to learn more about International Coastal Clean-up Day (September 19, 2009), please click HERE. You may also be interested in checking out the website of Emerald Coastkeeper, a local Waterkeeper Alliance Member, by clicking HERE.
My special thanks to those who go out of their way every week to help keep our beaches clean and trash-free.