Spring Break Crowds Bring Trash To Beaches - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Spring Break Crowds Bring Trash To Beaches

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With large spring break crowds comes large spring break garbage.

It's challenging both Bay County and the city of Panama City Beach to find a balance between keeping the sand and roads clear, while keeping the visitors happy.

"We want people to have a good time, but the beach is our most valuable asset and we need to protect it," said Panama City Beach Mayor, Gayle Oberst.

Oberst has seen spring breakers come and go, but they're not always taking their trash with them.

Beer bottles, cans and Styrofoam boxes are recognizable decorations during the spring holidays when millions descend to the sands for a good time.

"We've tried a number of things. Some have worked, some haven't...just to tell people, "pick up," said Oberst.

This year is no exception.

Bay County's Tourist Development Council uses bed tax dollars to place around 1000 trash cans along the beach and contract out a beach cleaning crew, which rakes up trash on 6 miles of the beach each morning.

"We have more people here, which is good for business, but it also means more on the highways," said Public Works Director, Paul Casto.

Casto said his team is working overtime to make sure the roadways stay clean for spring break visitors.

"It's the same city staff that we have, we just work 7 days a week to try to keep up," said Casto.

This is the first spring season in PCB that leave no trace is in effect, which clears and disposes of items left on the beach unattended after 7pm.

Oberst said the rule is geared more towards families than college partiers who she said are more focused on getting suntans.

"So, they're not as concerned about the shelter and what benefits a tent would provide," said Oberst.

They're also less likely to leave them beach side.

In the meantime, they continue to combat a trash issue she said comes with the territory.

"There is always more trash during spring break. It's been a problem, but it's a good problem to have…the fact that we have so many people here," said Oberst.

Spring break is around six weeks starting in February through the start of April.