TREASUREISLAND, Fla. (TBO.com) — The powdery white sand is unquestionably this island community’s most valuable asset.
That’s why an especially wide stretch of beach behind the Thunderbird Hotel and others should not be used as a stage for carnivals, concerts or event parking, says Robert Young, a coastal geologist from WesternCarolinaUniversity visiting Treasure Island this weekend.
Just a few yards north, he says, there are signs of health: grassy humps and sand dunes that have built up. But the stretch behind the Thunderbird remains void of vegetation because of cars, music stages and even a Ferris wheel that was set up here during a dozen different annual events.
Young’s trip came at the request of a group of beachfront hoteliers who have complained that the festivities are bad for their business and the environment.
He did not speak about the hotel owners’ lawsuit that claims the city is violating state environmental laws by allowing vehicles and event equipment on the sand.
Regardless of whether it runs afoul of state regulations, though, Young said these kinds of intense activities are bad for the beach’s ecosystem and possibly the long-term economy.
“The beaches are your gold,” Young said. “The business engine for so much of the state is this beach and protecting this beach.”
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