Partly Sunny with a Chance of Hurricane

As tropical storm Alberto made landfall this weekend, there was another storm brewing on our island.  According to this article from 1985, the disagreement among islanders on how to manage the island has been going on since Jeff Lewis the Tallahassee businessman who bought the entire island in the 1940s passed away.  There are the people who want their own private island and there are others who want to share the beauty of the island with others.

We are part of the sharing the island camp.  Some property owners do not want us to bring people out to the island beaches for day trips.  They are afraid that people will just disturb the wildlife if people come here.  While our primary business is fishing charters, our intention in providing rides to the island is to educate passengers on the natural beauty and conservation efforts of the inhabitants of the island. If you involve the local communities, they will take some responsibility for and may become enthusiastic about the active conservation of Dog Island.   If you look at any conservation group, their main goal is outreach and advocacy, not secrecy and restriction.  Carrabelle and the surrounding towns in Franklin county are the first stop for tourists. Being a full time resident, I have a lot of interaction with the local community and from what I gather, Dog Island has the reputation of being a pretentious private country club. This impression will breed resentment and the local community won’t care to get involved nor educate visitors in conservation of the island wildlife. With the population swelling, social media, and locally, the development of Island View Park in Carrabelle, it is inevitable that tourists will come to the island. Ecotourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry and we can as a community get ahead of this and manage it or we can get left behind as we watch the integrity of this ecosystem get destroyed. Nobody wants Dog Island to be built up, but ecotourism growth creates significant opportunities for conservation and can provide much needed revenue for the protection of our natural areas that might not be available from other sources.

We have been told that people have been fighting commercialization of Dog Island for generations, but continuing to do something because it’s always been done that way is not a good reason for doing it.  I believe there is a better way to preserve the wildlife than to just pretend like Dog Island is a private island and discourage people from visiting.  Finding a way to come to some democratic way of agreeing on shared management of this beautiful stretch of land is paramount to preserving its pristine environment.

 

5 thoughts on “Partly Sunny with a Chance of Hurricane”

  1. Islanders are welcome to bring their friends to the Island… our Island is not set up for tourists
    There are no restrooms, stores, etc… Bring your guests and you take care of them! (I don’t let anyone visit my house without me being there!)
    If I wanted a populated island with facilities and emergency services I would go to St George!

  2. This post unfortunately reflects a pretty superficial and warped understanding of the history of the island and the attitudes of the many people who live there, own property, visit, and/or cherish the island. I encourage anyone who reads it to do the work to understand the place: speak with Dog Island people directly and come to multiple conservation district meetings (you know, that democratic thing). This isn’t the first time someone has come in cold, tried to push their personal commercial agenda without research, and then badmouthed people because they didn’t get their way. It’s a shame, because the island is a beautiful place with wonderful, welcoming people.

  3. what a crock…..”our intention in providing rides to the island is to educate passengers on the natural beauty and conservation efforts of the inhabitants.”
    Really? What an insult to everyone’s intelligence….or, as my friend Forest once said: Stupid is as stupid does! This doesn’t even qualify as a rationalization…It’s just pure bullsh*t!

  4. I have been a part the Dog Island community for 15 years and my In-laws and their family property owners or 50+. I have seen what non-residents and day trippers can do to the island. Trash everywhere, damage to the nesting areas, illegal poaching of blue crab and an overall disrespect for local ordinances. Not all are this way but enough are to cause the local property owners to resist allowing them. Saying it’s because they are pretentious or elitist is proof people don’t understand. I can relate to people wanting to rent thier property but when it comes down to the commercialism of Dog Island I say St. George is just as beautiful and already has the resources to clean up after the tourist and hold them accountable for thier behavior.

  5. “While our primary business is fishing charters, our intention in providing rides to the island is to educate passengers on the natural beauty and conservation efforts of the inhabitants of the island.” (Your primary intention is to diversify your business to increase revenue while pretending to be altruistic. Dog Island is privately owned. Stay below the ordinary high water line. St. George State Park is more appropriate for your business expansion into ecotourism.)

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