One Step Closer to More Turtle Protection

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The Fort Myers Beach Town Council held the first of two public hearings Monday aimed at doing more to protect turtles by reducing the amount of light coming from inside buildings, especially new construction.

The Marine Resources Task Force committee conducted a one year review of the 2020 Sea Turtle Conservation Ordinance and proposed changes. The intent of changes is to reduce interior lighting from new and existing buildings that continue to shine light out onto the beach. Lights disorient turtles from making their way into the water.

The new rules will apply to all properties within the town that may produce artificial light directly, indirectly, or cumulatively visible from any portion of the beach, regardless of whether those properties are beachfront properties; and to all buildings and related infrastructure, including landscaping, as well as all other activities that may adversely impact sea turtles.

Locations including, but not limited to, stairwells, elevators, parking garages, or courtyards shall not produce light that is directly, indirectly, or cumulatively visible from any portion of the beach. Window film, tinting, light screens, shades or curtains should be used to block visibility of interior lights from the beach. Light screens shall be used on open or enclosed staircases on the seaward or shore-perpendicular side of a building or for parking garages to limit visibility of lights from the nesting beach

The amendment to the town ordinance says commercial businesses and multifamily condos continue to add lights that contribute to sky glow. The change requires 15% tinting of windows to mitigate interior lights and reduce light pollution onto the sea turtle nesting habitat on the beach, particularly on vacation rentals, high rise resorts and condo properties. The amendment also clarifies language regarding interior lighting visibility on the beach enables better enforcement.

We will have Steve Johnson and Jennifer Rusk on Beach Talk Radio to talk about the amendment to the ordinance and to discuss new pop-up turtle resource booths.

The second public hearing on these changes will be held April

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