Janet Taylor routinely walks the beach from Grayton to Seaside and many days she kayaks Grayton or Western Lakes.
For more than a year, she has been picking up trash in large quantities while walking and she believes the problem seems to be growing.
"When the Grayton pass opens and the water level lowers, the trash in the lake becomes even more obvious. This is horrifying to me on many levels," she said. "I enjoy living in a beautiful location and I want my property values to grow rather than decline. I want our visitors to the area to enjoy their stay and want to return. I care about the environment both on the land and in the Gulf."
Taylor has come to the conclusion that she and other concerned citizens cannot do it alone.
"I'm sure there is an argument to be made that the trash is on State Park land so they are responsible. They might argue that this is trash generated by the county so our county commissioners should handle it. Many might point to the TDC saying that they, along with our large developments, are bringing so many guests to the area and they should handle it," she said. "The bottom line is that we are all responsible and we all need to get involved to get a handle on this situation."
The week of July 2-8, Walton County Tourist Development Council's Beach Maintenance workers removed 4,860 bags of trash, and 1,470 "leave no trace" items from the beaches of South Walton, said Beach Maintenance Manager Josh Ervin.
"Those numbers are typical for this time of year," he said. "July 4th week is our busiest time for trash removal."
Typically, most of the things removed are regular household-type garbage such as cups, cans, wrappers, etc., however, once, maintenance workers had to remove a dead deer.
While Beach Maintenance workers are busy, though, Taylor would like to get a group together to brainstorm about how to clean up the county. Those who are interested may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, she will be putting on her rain boots this Saturday morning and walking the perimeter of Grayton Lake, picking up as much trash as she can.