Wild Gulf Beach Habitat Protected

least tern, © Jessica Kirste

Just like beachgoers who like to wiggle their toes in the sand, hundreds of resident and migratory animal species, including many threatened and endangered shorebirds, sea turtles and beach mice, claim Florida’s beaches and adjacent dunes as home, for nesting or resting. These species’ habitats are being squeezed by ever increasing competition with Florida’s nearly 95 million tourists and the state’s nearly 20 million residents, of which 75 percent live within 10 miles of the coast.

Today only about a third of Florida’s 825 miles of sandy beaches along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Ocean are protected within parks. State and local governments, especially those in rural northwest Florida, haven’t done enough to protect coastal beach habitats, and they haven’t ensured that private development allows access to the surf. In response, growing numbers of beachgoers are pushing for more convenient access to protected wild beaches managed for habitat and species.

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