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Beach Lover
Jun 23, 2015
Is There Another solution to the Customary Use Dispute?
New 501(3)c, Preserving South Walton, Inc, offers cooler option to heated argument

Santa Rosa Beach Florida: Today, Preserving South Walton Inc., (PSW, INC) a newer nonprofit founded to preserve the beauty and encourage responsible growth of the South Walton County area, announced a new initiative to end the battle on customary use.

Giving the reasoning behind this campaign, President, Wes Herndon said, “Unfortunately, courts and county commissions don’t always offer legitimate avenues for compromise. As a result, their decisions leave people bitter and resentful. We believe we all have the heart to be better than that. By initiating this campaign, we believe we are enacting a good neighbor solution that takes the human element into account…it not only preserves South Walton’s access to sand, it preserves stewardship and relationships.”

Through Local contributions, partnerships, agreements, and grants, PSW, Inc’s goal is to secure and/or gain access to properties. In doing so, this will permit access to others who would use that property responsibly, and simultaneously limit the liability of the landholder. As a result, an acceptable compromise between all parties can be reached.

“This entire dispute has already turned toxic, and if it keeps progressing, it could get even worse.” says Steve Burnett, PSW, INC’S Vice President. Is that something we really want?”

In the coming week, Preserving South Walton, INC plans to announce a public Q&A forum and is currently in the process of forming a volunteer advisory committee. To become involved, contribute, or assist PSW, INC and this campaign, visit

Preserving South Walton, INC, is a 501(3)c nonprofit organization that was founded to encourage, educate, and propagate responsible land use and growth in South Walton County Florida.

W. Wesley (Wes) Herndon
Cell: (478) 960-0580
Preserving South Walton, Inc


SoWal Guide
Staff member
Nov 15, 2004
South Walton, FL
No there is no compromise on Customary Use of our beaches. Please do not support these new local groups calling for compromise. I definitely question who is behind them. Mike Huckabee called for these exact compromises to "allow" the public limited access to "private" beaches. No thank you.


SoWal Guide
Staff member
Nov 15, 2004
South Walton, FL
Watch out for the "C" word coming to South Walton. This word first introduced by County Commission Candidate, Bill Fletcher. Seeking ways to "Compromise" regarding Customary Use of our Beaches.

There will soon be a group or groups offering compromises couched in an narrative saying: "let's all come together and be good neighbors and work this out" Mmmm, a seemingly sounding, reasonable platform.

We need to remember this. The beachfront owners and their lawyers determined, well executed plan is to take control of our beaches so they call the shots. Many or most obtained their beach through Quiet Title in the very recent years like new resident, Mike Huckabee. When I met with former Arkansas Governor Huckabee last summer his "Beach Share" plan was predicated on the owners "giving permission" to beachgoers using "their property" provided they behave correctly. This platform is fundementally flawed because the Beachfront owners are calling the shots on our beaches; our beaches we have used freely for centuries.

Their end game is to Control, big C, the beaches and to monetize them. Make them private and up the price goes. Then, perhaps try to sell them back to he County through eminent domain or just have much more valuable property because it is private.

Yes, The "C" word will be creeping in and we need to be careful about creeping compromise.

Read this "Good Neighbor" narrative coming from a new 501c3 website called "Preserving South Walton"... "We believe that Coastal property owners should be allowed to have full control of their private land, but realize that South Walton also needs recreational areas that the tourists and locals can enjoy." And further......"We look to secure and/or gain access to properties for public use that limits the liability of the landholder, while still permitting access to others who would use that property responsibly. In doing this, we firmly believe that we can find an acceptable compromise between the proponents of customary use, and those property owners who are concerned about allowing the public access to their property."

Did you catch that? "allowing" public their property.

This is eerily, exactly the Huckabee plan couched in a slick, new package. "It's ours. Behave and we might can work something out" Same playbook, different cover.

So beware of Creeping Compromise because all it has ever been about is Control of our Beaches. I promise you. Any Compromise will Compromise our ancient, uninterrupted use of OUR treasured, shared beaches.

Just remember everyone, the beach, it's ours, it's always been ours and anything a Compromise. So let's be good neighbors and work together to reinstate Customary Use.

I gotta hand it to our new Compromising good neighbors, Preserving South Walton...hey, nice logo!

I just have to ask though, is the fence halfway down or halfway up?

Posted by Dave Rauschkolb on Facebook Aug 25

Last edited by a moderator:


Beach Fanatic
Feb 18, 2016
With a few modifications, "customary use" might work, but the customary use advocates seem to want unfettered use of all dry sand property. I hear some say they just want to bring a chair and an umbrella and peacefully enjoy the beach and some do that, but that is not the case for MANY of the people who go to our beaches. Quite often, they want to set up outdoor living/smoking/drinking places with all kinds of assorted big plastic floats and games that send objects flying into the dunes. Many of those beachgoers reserve some of the best/most accessible beach frontage from morning until night regardless of whether they are present on the beach or not. Limited customary use like we had for a year and a half probably could have worked with proactive, consistent, and convincing enforcement, BUT that isn't what we had. Enforcement was almost exclusively complaint driven, was not timely and wasn't convincing (rarely was anything more than a warning given). In order to restore peace on our beaches, we need prominent and crystal clear signage identifying the beach at the base of each access with applicable rules for that section and enough code enforcement officers to timely, proactively, consistently, and convincingly enforce whatever rules apply. Pre-sets and reserving the beach should be prohibited (IMO) for both vendors and the public. I get it that people don't like rules, but we live in a world today where respect, consideration, and common courtesy are not practiced to the extent they were in past times. Unfortunately, that requires more rules for everyone to play nice in the sand box.

I think it is sad that compromise has become a bad word for so many people these days. So many issues can be worked out if both sides are willing to make some concessions and it would be a whole lot less expensive and get to a quicker resolution in my opinion. Not even trying guarantees a long drawn out, expensive battle that further tears apart the very fabric of our community and harms our relationships with each other and our visitors.


Beach Lover
Jun 19, 2012
Dave, again I admire your passion on this issue, but I am absolutely astonished that you would try to cast me falsely and negatively to help my opponent, especially when you know the position of all of the current Commissioners and future Commissioners will not impact the ensuing court battles.

You and I have discussed this CU over the past three years and we both know you, all of the County Commissioners and many citizens and BFO's preferred compromise. I wear my efforts to try compromise and avoid years of litigation and millions in legal fees as a badge of honor and something I pursued for all Walton County taxpayers.

You also know, as we recently discussed, that compromise is no longer an option, so why are you trying to make it an issue? This will be decided in the courts and I support that; HB 631 gives us no choice.

You also imply that my major support is from the BFO's, knowing full well the bulk of my support is from Customary Use proponents, including you, one of my largest contributors. I fervently believe a large percentage of voters understand that this election is about much more than one issue; we have so many! It is about a special interest group that has controlled this County for decades and they are spending a huge amount of money to maintain that control.

I sincerely wish you would quit fanning hysteria about the public not having access and use of the beaches while this court battle proceeds. The public currently has access to the vast majority of the beach. If our County Commissioners would just deal with the out of control Beach Vendors and the thousands of ghost chairs, we could immediately increase the public beaches by 50%.

I hope you will at least consider some of my thoughts and quit trying to make Compromise the issue when it is absolutely no longer an option.


Beach Crab
Feb 14, 2014
SRB, Florida
Does living here you're entire life make one a "new local"? Two of the board members of this organization are natives who have lived here their entire lives, and the third has lived here for almost 10 years.

Just because someone isn't as vocal, opinionated, or active in many community activities as others, does not make his/her any less a local. Given that thought process, there are many in our area who should keep their ideas to themselves.

Also, a different area code for a cell number isn't necessarily an indication either.

Criticizing an organization based on its ideas is one thing, but to paint them as some sort of outsiders without any proof is another.
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