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Beaches Marketplace Winter

Beach Camping & Driving Regulations

Amelia Island’s beaches attract lots of visitors, but they are also attracting lots of attention from local officials.

–Steve’s Marketplace —

Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.

Potential changes coming to Amelia Island Beach driving regulations
Beach Driving, Amelia Island

Nassau County’s beaches attract lots of visitors, but they are also attracting lots of attention from local officials. The former is a gainful attraction; the latter typically is not.

Meanwhile, residents should pay attention to the developments, swirling like the currents in the Nassau Sound. One thing is certain – more beach regulations and restrictions are coming ashore.

In the latest development, a committee assigned to study Amelia Island beach usage will deliver its findings to the county commission next week. The well-represented committee worked diligently, through months of workshops and public testimony.

The beaches have come under scrutiny after several recent incidents. In separate instances, beachgoers were struck by cars in areas where driving is permitted. These unfortunate incidents drew much attention, and jumpstarted pro-safety efforts by city and county officials.

Sadler Road Fernandina Beach Seaside Park Beach Driving Parking
Sadler Road, Fernandina Beach Access (Near Sliders)

In the city, an entirely new department has been created to monitor the beaches there – most notably, the beachfront parking area at Sadler Road. The city reportedly will have eight workers in the new department to patrol/oversee the beaches in its jurisdiction.

Modifications have already been made at the city’s beachfront park in front of Slider’s Restaurant, with obnoxious signs on large pilings designating parking spaces. It seems to be a kneejerk reaction, and a costly one at that.

The approach taken by Nassau County officials has been much more measured, and reasonable (and less costly). The data and findings of the beach committee will be delivered at the county commission meeting at 6 p.m. this Monday.

Nassau County commissioners will not make a decision at the meeting, however. They will simply hear and digest the findings and recommendations of the committee. It appears the committee will suggest restricting all camping on the county beaches as well as driving/parking at night.

Amelia Island Beach Camping
Camping, Tent Pitched At American Beach

The beach committee consisted of county officials, from those in management to tourism, along with several residents. After hearing the recommendations, county commissioners are expected to schedule public hearings of their own. In this way, residents will be able to provide their input on any changes.

It’s again one of those situations where a few bad people have ruined things for everyone. Some parts of the beach resemble campgrounds with tents erected along the sand dunes. The beach was never intended to be a campground.

Beach driving/parking is more cherished, a right. The biggest stretches of drivable beach are at Peter’s Point and at American Beach. Also, the scenic state park at the sound end of Amelia Island allows beach driving/parking.

Cars and trucks will likely be restricted from driving on the county beaches at night due to the nesting of sea turtles during certain times. The city has already restricted beach parking at Sadler Road at night.

This is somewhat understandable. However, placing laborious regulations on residents who are rightfully using the beaches in lawful capacities is unappealing, and unattractive. Let’s incorporate this into the new regulations.

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Steve Nicklas Financial Advisor
Steve Nicklas, Financial Advisor

Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor for a U.S. brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns appear regularly in several newspapers in North Florida and South Georgia, and on his website. He has also published a book, “All About Money,” consisting of some of his favorite columns over the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and on Amazon.com. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected].)