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Shell Island getting new rules

Shell Island, a few minutes off Tierra Verde and Pass-a-Grille on St Pete Beach in Pinellas County, has long been a favored destination for boaters. Boats anchor off and the boaters either swim or walk to shore (or just stay on their boats). There are occasional boats from the shore that bring folks out and leave them on the island for the day. Some people camp there overnight. There’s lots of partying and drinking, and many people bring their pets. Most people clean up after themselves and take responsibility, but once again the few spoilers ruin it for the majority. Some leave garbage and worse on the island.

The environmentalists have been fighting for a long time to preserve the island as a pristine refuge for wildlife. It became an official preserve.

Though alcohol was prohibited on the beach, drinkers would merely step into the water and "escape" the enforcers. Certain areas were deemed "off limits".

Last week the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approved the 2007 Shell Key Preserve Management Plan which makes the ban on alcohol and dogs official. While effective immediately, authorities say they will first post signs to warn the boaters, then will begin enforcement – probably not for at least 2 months.

Environmentalists applaud the protecting of nesting birds. Boaters complain that they were not heard.

Will boaters stop drinking? Will boaters stop going to Shell Island? Are the rules fair? Whose side are you on?

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