South Walton Beach Rules & Safety Info

Discussion in 'All About SoWal' started by SoWal Staff, Jun 19, 2013.

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  1. SoWal Staff

    SoWal Staff Serving the Community! Staff Member

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    beach-flags.png

    At SoWal.com, we are committed to helping locals and visitors stay safe while enjoying our beautiful beaches. The beach is such a wonderful place to relax. At the beach, life is beautiful and we slip into a state of mind where we feel comfortable, carefree, and secure. That's what a vacation is all about!

    Please be AWARE! Gulf waters can be dangerous and it's important to always put safety first. Be aware of the State of Florida beach flag system and receive updates on beach conditions by text or by visiting South Walton Fire District website. For current conditions and flag updates, text "FLAG" to 31279

    Lifeguarded beaches are available from mid-March through September, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. at regional public beach accesses including Inlet Beach, Santa Clara, Van Ness Butler Jr., Blue Mountain Beach, Gulf View Heights, Ed Walline, Fort Panic, Dune Allen and Miramar Beach. Lifeguards are provided by South Walton Fire District.
    See accesses at www.SoWal.com/beach-accesses.

    Some links about beach safety in Walton County:

    South Walton Beach Rules and Safety Information

    Beach Safety Tips - Staying Safe on SoWal Beaches

    Visit South Walton TDC Beach Safety

    South Walton Fire District Beach Safety Division


    Beach safety tips...
    Don’t dive in (2/3 of all catastrophic neck/head/spinal injuries happen in open water)
    Know before you go…Pay close attention to the flag warning system
    Knee deep is too deep on red flag days
    The water is closed on double red flag days
    Be cautious and swim close to shore. Always exercise caution when entering the gulf.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2020
  2. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    What is the Beach Flag System?

    South Walton uses the official flag warning system established by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The flag colors signify surf conditions. If red flag conditions are present, knee deep is too deep, so cooling down is limited to the waters edge. When double red flags are flying, the water is closed for swimming. The purple flag is added when marine pests are present and swimmers should watch out for jellyfish.

    Look for the flag and Beach Warning Flags sign at the beach access entrance. Current flag conditions are posted daily at SWFD website. Sign up for beach flag notifications by texting “FLAG” to 67463 to receive regular updates.


    Flag Warning System:


    • Double Red Flag: Water is closed to public (dangerous water conditions)
    • Red Flag: High Hazard (high surf and/or strong currents)
    • Yellow Flag: Medium Hazard (moderate surf and/or currents)
    • Green Flag: Low Hazard (calm conditions, exercise caution)
    • Purple Flag: Marine Pests Present (jellyfish, stingrays, dangerous fish)

    beach flags.gif

    In 2005, the State of Florida adopted and enacted into law the Beach Flag Warning System. This is the flag system you see across the Beaches of South Walton. It is extremely important to monitor the beach flag warning system. Dangerous rip currents may exist in the water, but provide no visible indication from shore; i.e. large waves. This is especially true on our 26 miles of beach.

    Flag colors are determined by the most dangerous surf or rip conditions within the county's beaches and the appropriate color flag or flags are flown at each beach access. Therefore, the conditions at the beach where you are visiting may appear less dangerous than the beach flags that are flying. The South Walton Beach Safety Division is constantly monitoring the water conditions and weather forecast to provide the most accurate and timely water and surf information possible. Please remember to use caution at all times.


    See South Walton Fire District Beach Safety website for current beach conditions and flag updates.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2020
  3. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    South Walton Fire District (SWFD) lifeguards are on duty at designated beach access locations from March through September, from 10am to 6pm.

    Go to an Access With a Lifeguard - Click here for a list & map of all Walton County Beach Accesses
    By enjoying the beach where lifeguards are present, beachgoers are provided added safety under the watchful eye of a trained professional. Lifeguards are provided by South Walton Fire District and funded as a part of the Visit South Walton Safety Program.
     
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  4. SoWal Staff

    SoWal Staff Serving the Community! Staff Member

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    Leave No Trace is an international program that aims to reduce environmental impacts. Walton County Ordinance 2017-05 supports this program by requiring personal items to be removed from the beach each night. Personal articles that are found abandoned on the beach one hour after dusk until one hour after sunrise will be removed. Leave No Trace is monitored by TDC Beach Code Enforcement of Walton County.

    If you have additional questions, please call Beach Code Enforcement at (850) 267‐4578. We appreciate your assistance in keeping the area’s beaches clean and safe for both beachgoers and nesting sea turtles.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is Leave No Trace?
    Leave No Trace is an international program that guides outdoor enthusiasts in their decisions to reduce their impacts while enjoying recreational activities.

    What is Beach Ordinance No. 2017-05?
    Walton County has made progress in promoting and enforcing beach ordinance 2017-05 Section 22-54(g), which states:
    Personal property on the beach between one hour after dusk and one hour after sunrise. (1) It shall be unlawful for any person to leave an item of personal property on the beach between one hour after dusk and one hour after sunrise, unless a permit has been granted by Walton County.

    Why did Walton County enact this ordinance?
    The beach ordinance was enacted due to the need for emergency vehicles to navigate the beach more safely year-round and to protect wildlife, such as sea turtles during turtle nesting season which occurs annually from May to November. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission mandate to coastal counties that obstacles on the beach at night be prohibited. This is in effect at other Florida beaches and is being more strictly enforced because of the large decline of turtle nests being recorded.

    What is the Walton County Tourist Development Council’s (TDC) role in the program?
    Visit South Walton has been tasked by the Board of County Commissioners to educate visitors and residents about the Leave No Trace Ordinance. Visit South Walton acts as beach ambassadors and stewards of the program and offers information to educate beachgoers on the importance of keeping our sugar-white sand clean, safe and habitable for sea turtle nesting. Community awareness is meant to ensure beachgoers, locals and visitors in general are in compliance with Walton County laws.

    What is Code Enforcement’s role in the program?
    TDC Beach Code Enforcement will enforce the ordinance and remove the abandoned items.

    Can a person recover the items that have been removed?
    Any item of personal property which remains on the beach between one hour after dusk and one hour after sunrise, unless a permit has been obtained from the county by the owner or person in possession and control of the item, shall be deemed abandoned and shall become the property of the county which may dispose of the item in accordance with Florida Statutes.

    Is there anywhere else beachgoers can place their personal items?
    For those who own or are renting beach front property, personal items may be placed in a neat bundle at the toe of the dune.

    Can you place items under the beach accesses and walkovers?
    No. Any personal items left under or attached to a public beach walkover will be considered abandoned and removed.

    Do you need to get a permit for kayaks or larger items?
    No. There are no permits for larger items and may be placed neatly at the toe of the dune.

    Can you obtain a permit for large items, permanent structures and vendor boxes?
    Yes, there is a permit that can be obtained for permanent structures and large items such as sail boats. These requests will be reviewed to ensure that the structure or item does not impact sea turtle nesting and does not supersede any state or federal permits. For more information, contact code enforcement at (850) 267-4578.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2020
  5. Dave Rauschkolb

    Dave Rauschkolb Beach Fanatic

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    Walton County Beach Activities ordinance "(Items left on the beach overnight will be discarded. (Ordinance 2013-04 Section 22-54) "Obstructions also include fences, ropes, chains, or signs unless properly permitted by county, state, and federal agencies as appropriate.".
     
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  6. carson

    carson Beach Fanatic

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    The revolution starts here.
     
  7. southof30A

    southof30A Beach Lover

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    How about Walton Co. start with discarded chairs, beach toys, etc. Many mornings I have watched the Walton Co. truck drive around the junk and never stop. Ordinances are worthless without enforcement.
     
  8. Jenksy

    Jenksy Beach Fanatic

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    They would need 24 more trucks.
     
  9. LarsAtTheBeach

    LarsAtTheBeach Beach Fanatic

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    Possibly with incorporation, much of the northbound flow of cash can stay on the coast and buy a few more trucks? :dunno:
     
  10. Paintmn

    Paintmn Beach Comber

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    I have recently retired and have moved to this beautiful area..I have lived at various coastal locations with some quite a bit more populated then here..I am shocked and dismayed by the sheer amount of trash and items left on the beach at the end of the day...i.e. Umbrellas , chairs ,trash, .. So sad !.I pick up what I can but there must be a better way...other locales drag their beaches every morning in am....I know I will hear about costs but obviously other resort areas had same pushback and still figured out a way even if it is only done during prime season. I just don't understand the lack of respect for the wonderful area we live in and I say this to all age because I have seen all ages leave the beaches a mess.
     
  11. Truman

    Truman Beach Fanatic

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    Agree - it is a perfect storm here...
    Rich entitled visitors who will spend hundreds at walmart and don't think twice about leaving it behind. Also the attitude of "I'm paying 20 grand this week I can do whatever I want".
    A permissive attitude by local residents, rental companies, government, etc ... begging people to bring money and do whatever they want. Greed rules in SoWal.
    County commissioners with a vested interest in development, vendors, rental mgmt, etc.
    No real enforcement or rules for fear of ticking of tourists.

    With such an amazing beautiful environment we should have a very protective attitude for our area!!!
     
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  12. ThirtyAGal

    ThirtyAGal Beach Lover

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    We are at Eastern Shores and someone left a tent frame on the beach 3 days ago. It is still there. If your county is so concerned about garbage left on the beach, why hasn't the county picked this up?? UNBELIEVABLE!!! Practice what you preach, or tourists are never going to believe you are serious about your clean beaches. I, for one, am appalled that this thing has been here this long. What is the problem??? I would appreciate an answer to this question. I have been visiting this beach for 21 years, and have never seen anything so blatantly ignored. Great job, Sowal, in reinforcing your laws. It isn't the tourons that are stupid, it is your county government. By the way, why have you removed all the garbage collection cans at each condo walkover? Do you not realize that this is going to encourage people who don't care to leave their trash on the beach? You all seem to be going backward in protecting your beautiful beaches. What a shame. This has been our worst visit ever. When coming home from Gulf Place we were followed by a black Cadillac SUV, driven by a mother and her entitled daughter. I followed the speed limit and this woman was up my bumper the whole way. When I approached a pedestrian crosswalk, and the car coming from the opposite direction had stopped, I stopped as well. The spoiled entitled brat leaned over and laid on the horn of her Mother's car. This continued all the way to Grayton Beach. This spoiled teenager continued to lean over and lay on the horn all the way. You people need our dollars to continue to feed your lifestyle, however after 21 years we will be seeking a more friendly, less snobby place to spend our money. I live at the base of the Smoky Mtns. and we would never treat our tourists the way you people do. Enjoy your rich, snotty lifestyle. We are not less than you people, we are more gracious and refined. New money does not equal class.
     
  13. Dawn

    Dawn Beach Fanatic

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    Hmmmm ....

    Maybe change your board name.

    You can thank a handful of greedy beachfront owners for ending garbage pickup on the beach. They are ruining our community.
     
  14. L.C. Bane

    L.C. Bane Beach Fanatic

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    @ThirtyAGal you need to get up to speed. The county has been cut off from picking up trash in a lot of areas. It is now considered tresspassing. Please don't don't blame all of the locals for someone tailgating you and being obnoxious.
     
  15. hippiechick

    hippiechick Beach Fanatic

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    I strongly suggest you find somewhere else to vacation. Our beaches don't need the likes of you.
     
  16. Garner

    Garner Beach Fanatic

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    Don't give up on us, There are a lot of locals who are working in front of the scenes and behind the scenes to counteract some of the recent changes, including the trash pick up. Most of our visitors are good, polite folks. A few aren't and those are the ones that have (for a large part) gotten us into this mess that we are in. At yesterday's Tourist Development Council meeting a major topic was the lack of enforcement and education of the basic rules of the beach. We locals want it better for you, as well as for ourselves. I think we can all agree that it has gotten out of hand.
     
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  17. steel1man

    steel1man Beach Fanatic

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  18. Ohio Girl

    Ohio Girl Beach Lover

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    so why don't the beach front owners clean their "yards"? I'm sure if there was trash in the front yard, owners would pick it up.
     
  19. Jim Tucker

    Jim Tucker Beach Fanatic

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    I'd bet most of them do. and it might make them angry. If people left stuff and trash in my yard it would make me angry. But I would clean it up. And I'd be proud to do it. But I would be angry.
     
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  20. FactorFiction

    FactorFiction Beach Fanatic

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    First, it is unfortunate that you had the experience you did. Many gulf front owners are diligent about keeping their beaches cleaned up, right down to cigarette butts; however, there are also many rentals that are owned by absentee owners that may or may not have an agent paying attention to items left on the beach by renters or the public, or occasionally, an owner:dunno::nono:. In spite of the rhetoric about customary use and private beaches, many gulf front owners are sharing their beaches peacefully with respectful beach goers:clap:. If you see something on the beach that needs removal, anyone can notify the rental company for the property (if you are able to identify that from signage, name of property or other means) or Beach Maintenance at 850-267-4578, select option 3 and leave a message if there is no answer.

    In terms of garbage cans at walkovers, it is the responsibility of private property owners to provide waste receptacles for their guests at this point. IMO, that should have been the case all along, but it wasn't. I believe our beaches are best served by NOT getting people in the habit of having trash cans all along the beach ON the beach, but rather have them conveniently located at street side exit points for easy pickup by Waste Management (our county garbage collector) or by the Tourist Development Council maintenance personnel when appropriate. All PUBLIC accesses to the beach should still have garbage cans at the street side and possibly on the beach as well. Best practices for beach stabilization and wildlife indicate that driving on the beach should not occur except in circumstances where there is a true need, not just for convenience purposes. Virtually all trash on the beach can be recovered without driving on the beach, particularly if people clean up after themselves. I find the attitude that "I paid $$$$ so I shouldn't have to clean up after myself" an irresponsible one and frankly, people who feel that way are not welcome here by most who live and visit here. The Boy Scouts have a saying "Pack it in, pack it out". Doesn't seem like a difficult concept. If someone takes items to the beach, surely they can take them back off the beach. Many locals and some visitors also walk the beaches routinely with a bag to pick up smaller debris such as plastics, food wrappers, cigarette butts (the #1 trash item that people leave on the beach), pieces of styrofoam and other things that will fit in their bag.

    The driving experience you had is frustrating for everyone and growing, much to our dismay. People who are just plain rude (like the one you experienced), too many people for our roads during a considerable portion of the year, and too many drivers that are not focused on driving all contribute to this situation. We have the added issue of more and more people using golf cart type vehicles (SLVs: Street Legal Vehicles) and even similar vehicles that do not meet the guidelines for SLVs (no seat belts, no headlights are particular safety risks). Sorry this is so long, but I thought your concerns deserved some answers. You may want to try coming back in a couple of years and give us another chance. We hope our county government will improve their course on development, infrastructure, and beach rules so that everyone can go back to peaceful coexistence again.
     
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