Reporting tool available for violations of public’s right to beach access

FOLLOWING UP on Governor Scott’s July 12 executive order directing efforts to ensure and preserve beach access by the public, a online tool is available for use in reporting violations of the public’s right to beach access. Plans are for information on complaints to be provided by the Department of Environmental Protection to local authorities and detailed in a report by the agency to Gov. Scott at the end of the year. (Photo by Dotty Nist)

By DOTTY NIST

Members of the public are able to report violations of their right to access the beach by using an online tool provided by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

DEP established the reporting tool as directed by Florida Governor Rick Scott in his July 12 executive order entitled “Preserving Public Beach Access.”

The order read, in part, “I hereby direct the Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Director of the Florida State Parks System to engage in all appropriate efforts to ensure that access to Florida’s public beaches is not restricted so that families and visitors can continue to enjoy our world-class public beaches.”

On Aug. 10, DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller commented on steps taken by DEP to implement Gov. Scott’s directive, detailing that the online tool had been established “for members of the public to report any violations of their right to public beach access,” that DEP staff had been identified and allocated, “to coordinate with the public in reviewing complaints,” and that staff had responded to members of the public who had requested to be contacted when reporting a complaint.

Miller continued, “DEP is in the process of gathering contact information for the appropriate municipal and county authorities. Once that is complete, DEP will refer all complaints to the appropriate local authorities.”

“DEP will provide a report to the Florida Legislature and Governor by December 31, 2018, regarding the comments received through the online reporting tool,” she added.

Information on beach access in Florida and a link to the online reporting tool and form may be found on DEP’s website at the link http://www.flbeachaccess.com/