Preserving Paradise: Walton County's Commitment to Coastal Cleanliness - 30A

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Preserving Paradise: Walton County’s Commitment to Coastal Cleanliness

By: Stephanie Folsom | Posted Sep 12, 2023

When you step onto the beaches here in Walton County, you’re met with sparkling emerald waters, sugar-white sand, pristine coastlines, and a breathtaking view of the Gulf. It is no wonder why people come in droves to have the 30A experience.

Behind the scenes, however, Walton County comes together with a strong sense of community to ensure the cleanliness of our beaches.

“Keeping our beaches clean is a 365-day per-year operation. There are trash receptacles at every beach access that are emptied every day,” said Brian Kellenberger, Director of Operations for Walton County Tourism. “Trash pickup by inmates is also utilized.”

“There are fun events such as International Coastal Cleanup Day, hosted by Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles where beach lovers, families, and companies show up and have a friendly competition to see who can pick up the most trash. Companies will use the event as a team-building exercise. Preserving and protecting the coastline and ecosystem is important,” Brian said.



If you are enthusiastic about keeping our beaches clean and want to make a positive impact, there are ways you can volunteer. “We are always in recruitment mode for new Volunteer Beach Ambassadors,” Christina Cabral with Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles told me.  “Interested individuals can reach out anytime. Go to friendsofswturtles.org to learn about the volunteer program. We are also available to work with, and support companies and businesses that would like to organize an individual clean up anytime throughout the year.”

This Coastal Cleanup Day, here are two impactful events lined up for you to make a difference:

1. On Saturday, Sept. 16, from 9 – 11 a.m., the Walton County Tourism Department and the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles are teaming up to organize another International Coastal Cleanup Day.

Residents, students, and visitors are invited to join this global initiative aimed at preserving the health of our oceans by cleaning our coastal waters. Our dedicated Volunteer Beach Ambassador teams will guide participants at five key South Walton regional beach access points as follows:

– Inlet Beach Regional Access, 438 S Orange St. Center, Inlet Beach

– Santa Clara Regional Access, 3468 E Scenic Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach

– Ed Walline Regional Access, 4447 W Scenic Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach

– Dune Allen Regional Access, 5999 W Scenic Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach

– Miramar Beach Regional Access, 2375 Scenic Gulf Dr., Miramar Beach

Participants can choose to count their collected debris via the Clean Swell App, available through both the App Store and Google Play. Volunteers can register with a Beach Ambassador to make sure their service hours are recorded as required. The collected debris details are shared with the Ocean Conservancy’s worldwide ocean trash database, offering crucial insights to specialists and educational initiatives tackling the increasing issue of marine debris.

For details about South Walton’s International Coastal Cleanup day, reach out to Christina Cabral at [email protected] or call (615) 232-4700.

2. Sandestin® is also stepping up with a local cleanup initiative. This collective effort not only ensures a pristine shoreline but also heightens awareness of sustainable habits we can adopt for healthier beaches every day.

Join like-minded volunteers at Sandestin Beach, located at 4009 S. Sandestin Blvd., Miramar Beach, FL 32550. After the cleanup, enjoy refreshments and stand a chance to win prizes. Participants are requested to wear a blue shirt for a group snapshot.

For more info on International Coastal Cleanup Day 2023, please visit the Ocean Conservancy website HERE.

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Stephanie Folsom is a local freelance writer and photographer who spent a lot of time on the Gulf Coast as a child, developing a love and passion for the beach. Through writing, she hopes to inspire others to explore, protect, and celebrate our beautiful beaches.

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