TF177162KENTUCKY (6/18/17) — The word "summer" conjures up many things, but perhaps nothing more so than the beach. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, beach attendance in 2016 exceeded 211 million visitors, suggesting that beaches are arguably the most popular spots in the country to unwind and soak up some rays.

But the popularity of beaches is not exclusive to the United States, and people across the globe have an incentive to make their visits to the beach as eco-friendly as possible. Clean beaches make days lounging on the sand more enjoyable, and beaches that are well-maintained will remain hotspots for summer fun for decades to come.

Avoid the dunes. Dunes do more than just add character and beauty to beaches. Dunes protect coastal properties from sea waves and provide habitats for certain plants and animals. While storm waves can remove sand from dunes and contribute to erosion, human activity, such was walking through dunes instead of utilizing walkovers that carry beachgoers over the dunes, also can track sand away from the dunes. Over time, that can lead to erosion.

Leave nothing behind but a sand castle. When packing for a day at the beach, pack only those items that you can take with you when the day ends. Bring water in reusable water bottles you might bring to campsites, and bring reusable utensils so you won't have to make any trips to the garbage can while you're at the beach. One stiff summer breeze can blow trash right out of beach garbage cans, increasing the likelihood that garbage ends up in the ocean. That risk is nonexistent if beachgoers bring only reusable materials they plan to take home with them.

Keep a watchful eye on dogs. Many people like to bring their dogs to the beach. But dog owners must monitor their dogs to ensure they don't relieve themselves in the ocean. According to the Pacific Shellfish Institute, pet waste can reduce oxygen content in the oceans, potentially harming fish and threatening their existence. When packing for the beach, dog owners who plan to bring their four-legged friends should make sure they pack enough bags to collect their dogs' excrement. Discard each bag appropriately.

Get your hands "dirty." Many people understandably view the beach as a getaway where they want to relax rather than work. But beachgoers can do their part to protect the surf and sand by picking up any litter they see while strolling the sand. One need not conduct an extensive beach cleanup, but every piece of trash beachgoers pick up is a piece of trash that does not find its way into the ocean, where it can negatively affect marine life and make swimming in the ocean less enjoyable.

Hundreds of millions of people visit beaches every year. Protecting these popular getaways does not take much effort, but those efforts can have a lasting impact.

SurfKY News


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