Destin and Okaloosa Island have experienced exponential growth in the amount of people who come to the area and enjoy our resources. As Spring Break continues to bring an influx of visitors to the area, the question of trash pick-up, along with beach raking, has been a hot topic between the City of Destin and Okaloosa County.
“The issue of beach clean-up is an issue that you have to tackle,” said Parker Destin, legal/political correspondent. “In at least the last 5-7years, it’s estimated that the amount of tourists that are coming to our local areas in Fort Walton Beach and Destin has almost doubled.”
And with that, there is more traffic, but really more garbage, explains Parker.
“And where does it go after a day on the beach?,” he asked. “A lot of it gets left, unfortunately, by some irresponsible visitors. It’ll get left on the beaches. It’ll get left in piles on the right-of-way where the trash cans overflow due to the fact that the County and our local governmental entities struggled to keep up with the amount of garbage that gets deposited and left in these garbage cans.”
So the County and the City of Destin had a meeting after last week’s influx of tourists and their leftover garbage.
“Okaloosa County and the City of Destin had a meeting of the minds at the last Council meeting and have committed to one another to dedicate all resources that are available to them to address this issue,” continued Parker. “And it’s one that we’re going to have to face long-term because the reason people come here is because of the beaches. If they are not pretty or pristine, it degrades the brand. Not to mention the environmental consequences of simply just having this trash out there.”
According to Parker, the city of Destin and Okaloosa County are “getting on the same sheet of music” in being able to have that trash picked up seven days a week, along with the beach being raked almost seven days a week.
“I know that’s a passionate issue for a lot of locals because everybody that was brought here in the first place, a lot of times it was because of the beach,” continued Parker. “And to see it degraded, I know it hurts the feelings of a lot of our local folks, but it also hurts the tourism brand.”
“I believe that they’re going to end up reassessing how much progress has been made after Spring Break,” said Parker. “Probably around the late-April early-May time period before Memorial Day where the real 90-120 days of summer starts to make sure that we’re ready when the big influx of tourists show up.”