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Boaters will ignore rules for sandbar

The group Save Our Sandbar wants to continue its recreational activities without interference from state, despite less restrictive rules.

By SAUNDRA AMRHEIN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002


Doug Metko plans to spend his Memorial Day weekend like many other boaters: out on the water with his dog, some hamburgers and beer.

The problem is, he might be flouting some state rules set by the Florida Parks Service because he hopes to enjoy himself at the sandbar just north of Anclote Key. However, the rules are not being enforced, Metko said.

The state once wanted no camping, dogs, alcohol or fires on the sandbar. Now it is offering a compromise: dogs on a leash, camping's okay, but no alcohol.

Metko, one of the founders of Save Our Sandbar, says he plans to be there with his dog on a leash, cooking some hamburgers and camping out along with other members of his group.

Metko said he does not foresee a showdown.

"We are not taunting in any way," he said Thursday.

But the group does plan to write a response to the state's proposal, saying they find it unsatisfactory.

The number of group members in the past several months has inflated from 80 to 350.

The sandbar, within sight of Anclote Key, has grown out of the bottom of the gulf for years. As recently as five years ago it would go under water during extreme high tides. Now, as it has grown taller, grasses are growing on it.

The restrictions on the sandbar are part of a plan to manage the natural resources of all the barrier islands that make up the Gulf Islands GEOpark. The GEOpark includes Anclote Key, Three Rooker Island, the Anclote bar and several other smaller keys and emerging sandbars.

-- Saundra Amrhein covers Pasco County government. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is amrhein@sptimes.com.

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