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Turtle Beach is one of the hot spots during turtle-nesting season. Courtesy photo.
Siesta Key Thursday, May. 3, 2012 5 years ago

Dog days ahead for Turtle Beach?

by: Alex Mahadevan News Innovation Editor

Dog and beaches just don’t mix — at least not in the eyes of self-described “Siesta Key community activist” Lourdes Ramirez. And an incident involving a dog’s business happening a bit too close to her while she was lounging on Turtle Beach isn’t the only evidence she cites for her opposition.

That’s why Ramirez, president of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations, was appalled to learn that a Palmer Ranch resident who wants to open Turtle Beach to canines in the mornings and evenings was contacting Sarasota County commissioners.

The resident, who requested to remain anonymous, will face environmental scientists, business owners and the status quo in his mission to bring legally his dog onto Turtle Beach. Despite facing residential opposition and early bureaucratic hurdles, he said he’s prepared for a long battle.

The resident sent emails to each of the county commissioners, reached out to Ramirez and talked with a spokesperson at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Nora Patterson, a representative of Siesta Key’s interests on the County Commission, told him he would never get approval and requested a public hearing.

“I’m sure there would be an outcry as great or greater against a dog beach than support for it,” she said. “He’s not just talking about dogs on leashes, he’s talking about dogs running free.”

The proposal would include morning (sunrise to 9 a.m.) and evening (5 p.m. to sunset) hours for dogs to freely roam the southern sliver of shoreline at Turtle Beach. Patterson said the time recommendations are laughable.

“Those are the coolest times of the day,” she said. “That’s when most people want to visit the beach.”

Environmental issues are also a factor. Keri Nelson, an environmental scientist working for Sarasota County, relayed turtle-nesting statistics to the resident to show that allowing canines on the beach would threaten sea-turtle populations — sea-turtle nesting continues through October.

“I grew up with dogs and absolutely love them,” Ramirez said in an email, “but can’t support dogs on any Siesta Key public beach.”

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