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Volunteers Help to Keep Nassau’s Beaches Beautiful

Our beaches on Amelia Island in northeast Florida are as white and spacious and bountiful as ever, despite what is happening on the Gulf Coast.

Amelia Island, Florida's Gorgeous Beachfront Summer 2010
Amelia Island, Florida's Gorgeous Beachfront

EDITOR’S NOTE: Contributing Columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insights on various topics in Steve’s Marketplace column.

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AMELIA ISLAND, NASSAU COUNTY, FLORIDA

Keep Nassau Beautiful takes to heart its role of germinating healthy conditions and appearances for our environment. The non-profit agency scrubs and cleans our area in a variety of ways — and teaches others to do so. Nothing is more of a focal point right now than keeping our beaches clean, however.

Our beaches here in northeast Florida are as white and spacious and bountiful as ever, despite what is happening on the Gulf Coast. And KNB executive director Todd Duncan wants to keep it that way.

As part of a pre-emptive effort, Duncan is continuing to train and mobilize volunteers to keep a watchful eye on all 13 miles of our coastline. As reports filter in about oily droplets washing up on Gulf Coast beaches, we have been fortunate to avoid any fallout from the BP oil spill thus far.
The environmental disaster is still in its early stages. While impossible to forecast whether oil will leach its way into the Gulf Stream and to the Atlantic Coast, it is possible to be prepared.
Sit By the Seaside. Beach Benches, Main Beach Park, Fernandina.
Sit by the Seaside. Main Beach Park, Fernandina Beach.

And KNB will be ready for whatever comes our way — and whenever.  In the meantime, Duncan is busily preparing for the biggest one-day volunteer event in the world, as he calls it. KNB and its volunteer forces will take part in the “International Coastal Cleanup” on Sept. 25, 2010.

The purpose of the special day is to purify coastal areas everywhere. And Duncan plans to scour all corners of our beaches for trash — again, with his bands of merry volunteers. (KNB will have sign-up booths the day of the event for anyone interested in taking part.)

The cleanup event provides more than a facelift for beaches. Organizers collect data on the types of trash hauled off (fishing line, cigarette butts, bottles, etc.), so they can more effectively target the culprits. “It gives us a good idea of what’s out there,” Duncan says.

KNB is also helping to showcase the “Sun Splash” summer concert series on the beach at the Sadler Road access. Duncan and his crews clean the beach before and after the concerts — and put up recyclable bins for trash.

It’s all in a day’s work for Duncan. While the work remains the same, finding a way to pay for it is getting tougher. As with most non-profit agencies, KNB is scrambling for funds to operate. It is more difficult to get government monies, but donations and grants are still attainable.
KNB also sponsors the “Adopt a Mile” and “Adopt a Shoreline” programs, whereby willing residents pledge to clean a stretch of beach or county roadway. For this, they receive a sign broadcasting their efforts. It’s a little recognition for a lot of help.
Seaside Park, Fernandina Beach. Site of Summer SunSplash Concerts
Seaside Park, Fernandina Beach. Hosting Summer SunSplash

As for remnants of the oil spill potentially showing up here, Duncan’s trained volunteers will be vital. They would alert officials of the presence of oil or sludge, so it could be cleaned up quickly.

“The pieces are pretty well in place, until we get something for us to become a little more vigilant,” Duncan says about preparations. Clean, attractive beaches bring in major tourism dollars for our area. KNB plans to keep it that way. The battle never ends, however.

(Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor who lives on Amelia Island. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected])

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Steve Nicklas
WINE RECEPTION BENEFIT AUGUST 12, 2010
A wine reception to benefit Keep Nassau Beautiful will be held Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Fernandina Beach.
The event, titled “Keeping Our Beaches Beautiful,” will be open to the public. Its focus will be to raise money for KNB and its efforts to protect our beaches from potential remnants of the BP oil spill. Attendees can browse the offerings of local sponsors and sign up for door prizes and raffles.
KNB will have a sign-up sheet for residents wanting to volunteer or donate to its cause. Contact Steve Nicklas at 904-277-1882 or 904-753-0236 for information.