MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Walton County Sheriff’s officials have released a standard operating procedure for enforcing public and private beach accesses.
After a five-year legal battle over customary use, the way deputies will patrol private beaches will be different depending on the location.
Sheriff Michael Adkinson said some enforcement has already been needed in Oct.
“We’ve done that several times this weekend where we’ve had some disputes over this,” said Adkinson.
The released policy will require beach ambassadors to first respond to a trespassing call from beach property owners. If ambassadors cannot resolve the issue, a deputy will respond.
The policy identifies documents property owners or certified representatives will need to confirm trespassing.
Adkinson said deputies are waiting on the county and tourism department to fully communicate the new rules.
“We certainly need the board and the [Walton County Tourism Department] to really ratify all the conditions primarily with the signage and also the surveys up and down the beach because that’s going to be critically important for us,” said Adkinson.
The Walton County Tourism Department said they are waiting for litigation to be complete and direction from the board of commissioners before they can put out any information.
“We are proactively working on what that would be like, what kind of messaging platforms we’re going to use, including us an interactive map to show the different customer use points and beach access,” said Walton County Tourism Department Communications Director Nicole Barefield-Everett.
The Walton County Tourism Department will promote the interactive map and other public notices on the tourism website and social media when they are legally allowed to do so.
Adkinson said in the meantime, the sheriff’s office will continue to educate the public.
“We just don’t want the public to be left in the dark about this. So we’re just trying very hard to step in until they’re prepared to fully come in compliance with or something,” said Adkinson.
The county has not said when they expect to fully close litigation and begin Walton County Tourism Department communication.
View the full policy below.
The article has been updated to confirm the Walton County Tourism Department is responsible for signage about the new Customary use rules for Walton County Beaches. Altered from TDC, a board that helps govern the Walton County Tourism Department spending efforts.