A reminder for guests of Jekyll Island who are coming to experience the beaches.
The Jekyll Island Authority is asking guests of the 10 miles of public beaches to be mindful of the sand dunes that line its shores.
Their goal is to promote the healthy use of the beaches and provide a playground for families, as well as protect the sensitive vegetation and wildlife that thrive in the sand dune systems.
Sand dunes are a fragile part of the island's ecosystem, providing for a diversity of plants and wildlife that find food and shelter within the dune system. The dunes also serve to protect the island from erosion during storms.
"Sand dunes are one of the most important ecological systems we have on Jekyll Island and are part of the island's natural development," said Ben Carswell, Director of Conservation for the Jekyll Island Authority, in a press release. "On top of that, the dunes are essential for nesting sea turtles and shorebirds. Without the sand dunes, Jekyll Island would not attract and support these magnificent creatures."
They are stressing that guests follow the island's beach-use ordinances which prohibit humans and domestic animals from intruding into the dunes.
According to Jekyll Island Authority Code of Ordinances, Section 18-16, it is unlawful to disturb sand dunes on the island. This includes but is not limited to: picking or removing vegetation from the dunes and walking through them.
Having guests walk through sand dunes is a common problem observed too frequently on the island.
"Often, folks are simply unaware that they are in the dunes or that the area can be easily damaged," said Carswell, in a press release.
Guests should be aware of the line of natural debris, such as shells, driftwood, and marsh grass, which has washed up on the shore at high tide. This is known as the wrack line, which denotes the start of the dune system.
"The wrack line lets beachgoers know when they are approaching the dunes." Carswell said.
The best way to avoid accidentally intruding into the sand dune habitat is to always use designated beach crossovers and stay below the wrack line when on the beach.
To help enforce this law, the Jekyll Island Authority depends on code enforcement officer Phil Lyons, who patrols the beach to ensure the safety of guests and the island itself. Individuals who observe beachgoers violating the beach-use ordinances are encouraged to contact Lyons by calling him at 912.602.4581.
For more information on Jekyll Island ordinances or sand dune protection, visit www.jekyllisland.com.