Leave Only Footprints – Everything You Need to Know

Pete Farris - April 17, 2018

Did you know that, according to Conserve Energy Future, over one million seabirds are killed by ocean pollution each year? Or that 300,000 dolphins and other marine life die each year from entanglement in polluted plastics and items. You may wonder how this pollution is entering the ocean in the first place. Most ocean pollution begins on land, but there are small steps we can take as a community to keep our beaches beautiful and create a sustainable ecosystem for the creatures that call the Gulf Coast their home.

This actually is not as uncommon as you may think. Visitors go to the beach, maybe bring a cooler and some food or drinks, then accidentally forget a trash bag, beach toys, an umbrella breaks or something falls out. That little something could potentially cause significant damage for our local wildlife. It could wash into the Gulf or get buried in the sand, and unfortunately the wildlife may consider this food or even become entangled. Just that simple, an accident has turned into a bigger problem.

You may have noticed signage around our community of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach that reads “Leave Only Footprints” but do you know what this program is exactly? Here on the Gulf Coast, this program is set in place to prevent these mishaps and help to keep our beaches beautiful for generations to come. Here are a few rules and regulations from the Leave Only Footprints website:

  • Any structures or equipment left on the beach an hour after sunset will be removed and disposed of by beach patrol (except for permitted beach services).
  • Individual lodging properties and land owners may allow tents and shelters in designated areas during the day. Learn the rules for your stretch of beach.
  • Items such as glass containers, overnight camping, fireworks, and pets are not allowed on the beaches. Please visit the website for the full list of items.
  • Keep off the dunes. Staying off the dunes will help us to preserve our dune system and the habitat it provides. Use beach walkovers and boardwalks where provided.
  • Observe and obey the Beach Warning Flag System. Double red flags mean the waters are closed for your safety.
  • Be respectful of private property beyond the bounds of your lodging property.

Leaving the beach natural and litter-free helps to ensure that it will remain the same when our children bring their children to visit. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are rated among the best Gulf Coast beaches for travel according to The Travel Channel and with your help, we can keep it that way. So create happy memories with your family and remember to “Leave only Footprints” when you leave. Enjoy your stay!

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