Leave Only Footprints Spring Break Reminder

Let's do our part to take care of the beaches we have.

Spring break will be here before we know it, and I know I’m not alone in dreaming of days spent in the warm sunshine, watching the waves roll in along Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast. I especially love looking out at the beach during the day, seeing an array of colorful umbrellas and tents interspersed with visitors playing Frisbee, kids digging in the sand and people of all ages wading in the surf. Obviously, we all love the beach, right?

Reminders at the Beach

To make sure all visitors to the Alabama Gulf Coast do what they can to care for the beach and the wildlife that resides here, the Leave Only Footprints program was established and rule enforcement began in 2016. The program reminds everyone to clean up their beach gear and litter as they head home, leaving behind only footprints. What does this mean for you? All beach-going visitors must remove their beach gear, including umbrellas and tents, within one hour after sunset. Any items left behind will be collected by the beach patrol and discarded or recycled. Yes, discarded. There is no “lost and found” where you can collect your items later.

Also, visitors will find trash cans and recycling receptacles placed along the beach. Please use them. Leaving trash can cause irreparable harm to the animals that live and nest on the beach.

Baby sea turtle

For example, the sea turtles that nest on this beach have almost insurmountable odds of survival in the best of circumstances: Thousands of sea turtles hatch each year (there were nearly 8,000 along just the Alabama Gulf Coast in 2015), but only 1,000 to 10,000 will reach adulthood due to natural obstacles. When we as humans don’t take care of the environment, that number can be reduced even more.

Additional steps visitors can take to ensure they leave only footprints after a day at the beach include keeping a respectful distance from sea turtle nests and bird nesting areas. In addition, do not walk, run or play on sand dunes as they serve as habitats for local wildlife. Finally, do not bring glass containers, metal shovels, fireworks or pets to the beach. For those who bring tents and other structures, be sure each one is no larger than 10 feet by 10 feet and remember to remove it at the end of the day.

We all love the beach and the memories we make with loved ones during a spring break vacation. Therefore, it’s crucial to follow these beach rules and regulations to ensure we leave only footprints behind when it’s time to head home. For more information on the Leave Only Footprints initiative along the Alabama Gulf Coast, visit cleanisland.org.

Leave Only Footprints Sand Pale

Orange Beach Sand Toy Boxes

Want to be part of something crazy fun? Orange Beach now has toy boxes you’ll notice when leaving the beach. When leaving the beach, you can drop your beach toys off there for other families to enjoy during their visit to the beautiful, sandy shores of coastal Alabama. How cool is that? It’s a great example for parents to set for children, just like throwing away trash and leaving a nice clean beach area for the next folks. Good manners are contagious!

Clean Up Alabama's Beaches

Set the Example

Help ensure clean beaches for future generations to celebrate birthdays, graduations, holidays and treasured vacations on. Leave Only Footprints behind and spearhead the efforts in your vacationing party to spend an extra minute or two gathering trash and beach gear to grant tomorrow’s visitors access to the cleanest, most beautiful beaches in the south – Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

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