Explanation of Indicator
Historically, the Florida coastline has always been accessible to the public for their use and enjoyment. As long as coastal development was confined to sporadic clusters of houses, private development did not interfere with the public's access to the state's beaches. The rapid and large scale growth experienced since the mid-1900s has severely limited the accessibility of the coastline. Local public parks provide a means for the general public to access the beaches. Coastal parks also provide a sanctuary for wildlife displaced or disturbed by parking lot lights or walkways of large developments. With steadily increasing development, parking near popular beaches has become an important concern. Even though there may be other access points for any given beach, a coastal park can supply the support facilities needed to accommodate a large number of people.
Continued population increases in Florida's coastal counties will bring forth continued increases in the demand for easy and safe access to public beaches. One survey found that only 18% of coastal properties are designed as public parks. The majority of the properties are small, fragmented street-ends and pedestrian walkways without support facilities or significant expanse of accessible shoreline. While only a small percentage of public properties are coastal parks, these properties represent a significant proportion of the public shoreline. Of the over 343 miles of public shoreline, 76% (261 miles) is located within public parks. By monitoring the number of coastal parks and the support facilities they offer, a local government may be able to anticipate conflicts with any proposed developments.
Current information is available in a report produced by the University of Florida, Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Gainesville, Florida. The report Beachfront Properties Under Public Ownership, 1994 provides an inventory and a summary of all public coastal property.
The data are available in electronic transfer as well as in hard copy format at no cost. Some of the data are also available on GIS-ARC/INFO.
The bulk of the information was obtained from local property appraisers’ offices. Approximate site boundaries were mapped via aerial photography and digitized on ARC/INFO based GIS. Site inspections were conducted to verify the information for each site and to gather support information.
Even though these data are comprehensive, they provide only an inventory baseline for future data. The total number of coastal public property may be misleading, as most of the property is in small fragmented strips and does not represent any significant recreational value.
It is recommended that this inventory be conducted every five years by either the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism at the University of Florida, through coordination with the Florida Coastal Management Program and/or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation and Parks. It is expected that this interval will be sensitive enough to the available data, and the benefits of collecting the data at shorter time intervals are not likely to outweigh the extra expense.