Florida’s beaches deserve protection

Two beaches close to USF have been named among the nation’s best, one even taking the top spot. For Floridians as well as the tourism industry, this is good news. It also stresses the need to protect our shores, as there was a time when most of Florida’s beaches would have competed with the beauty of the beaches that are now heralded as exceptional.

The beach close to Fort Desoto on the northern shore of Mullet Key, an island just off the entrance to Tampa Bay, has been named the nation’s best, a distinction that is based both on water quality and surrounding factors. Caladesi Island took the fourth spot.

International beach expert Stephen Leatherman said to the Associated Press, “This is nature. Where you can find that these days?”

Sadly, he is right. Most of Florida’s other beaches have mutated into overcrowded, condominium-ridden strips of sand. In most cases their beauty can only be guessed based on postcards sold at tacky beachside tourist traps.

Both of the beaches that made the list are in state parks and are receiving protection. But if the water quality were to drop, the beaches, along with their ecosystems, would also suffer. This is a problem that deserves closer attention if their beauty is to remain intact.

There are still some beautiful beaches left. Much of the shoreline north and south of Tampa Bay is still in relatively good shape. If this is to remain the case, protection measures must be taken now.