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Martin County beachgoers asked to stop using manmade path at Santa Lucea Beach

Dune contains rare native American middens, coastal vegetation
Posted at 6:50 AM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 06:59:23-05

STUART, Fla. — Martin County leaders are trying to deter residents from creating and using a manmade path at Santa Lucea Beach.

Public Works Director Jim Gorton said the dune is home to acres of coastal vegetation and rare Native American middens.

"It's going to cost some money for us to do a restoration," Gorton said. "But it's the right thing to do in this location because it's such a rare and unique habitat that we have here."

Gorton said the county has been dealing with the issue for months now.

He's asking residents to instead use the county-constructed boardwalk located about 50 yards south of the manmade path.

James Gorton, Martin County Public Works Director
James Gorton says the path is damaging the beach's dunes.

"The reason that they would prefer they use that crossover is because this dune has some rare coastal habitat and the vegetation that is in place on this dune has been destabilized by people walking through the dune," Gorton said.

Gorton said the north side of the beach, where the manmade path is located, is home to a popular break in the ocean where surfers like to go.

He said fishermen often use the south side where the boardwalk is, and residents don't walk to walk around them.

Right now, there are no signs to let residents know to not use the path.

Gorton said he's hoping education about the path and its habitat will deter residents from using it.