Baldwin County beaches are more popular than ever. But with that popularity comes a problem, an increased amount of beach gear being left over-night on the beaches and in some cases for weeks at a time.
“There’s tents and canopies and chairs and coolers,” says Gulf Shores spokesman Grant Brown. “You would be surprised if you walk down the beach or go early in the morning to see what gets left overnight.”
Both Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are now beginning the process of adopting an ordinance requiring beach-goers to remove it or lose it. “It’s gotten out of control,” says Orange Beach mayor Tony Kennon. “It’s to the point now where we have to intervene. We can’t count on folks to necessarily do the right thing.”
When we told beach-goers about the proposal there wasn’t a lot of support.
“I do not see the reason to take them down every single evening,” says Kristen Smith from Tennessee. “That is a burden honestly and it kind of takes away a little bit from the setting up for the beach and you are going to be here for the long haul.”
Rebecca Dodd agrees. “We’ve always gone to Panama City and they won’t let you leave your stuff out. So, it’s a hassle to carry it all up and take your tent down cause they throw it away if you leave it out.”
During a trial run in Gulf Shores last summer more than a ton of beach chairs, tents and other gear was collected in just a week.
“Our goal at the end of the day,” says Brown, “by 8 o’clock at night all those items are off the beach overnight you have a clean beach and the next morning people can bring items back to the beach.”
The idea of leaving only footprints behind is not new. Most coastal communities have already adopted similar policies and Baldwin County beaches could be next.
Both councils will introduce ordinances this week. Citizens and visitors will be able to weigh in on the issue in public forums later this month.
Gulf Shores will have a public hearing October 19th and in Orange Beach it will be a topic of discussion during a town hall meeting October 20th.