BLIND CREEK'S CLOTHING OPTIONAL BEACH IS THREATENED BY THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Please Donate to Save Hutchinson Island's Blind Creek Beach for Naturist Use
HERE'S WHAT'S HAPPENED.
Rumors have been circulating that the clothing optional section of Blind Creek Beach is in trouble. This St. Lucie County haven for naturists has openly thrived since 2014. Sheriff deputies tolerantly patrol and Treasure Coast Naturists (TCN) board members regularly consult with County Commissioners and staff. So what is really happening and why is the nude beach imperiled? The following will summarize conditions that are compelling a political fight in Florida's State capital. Your help in the form of legal defense donations is needed to fund this battle.
The first unnoticed salvo occurred as far back as three years ago when the State of Florida, through its Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), sent a complaint to St. Lucie County. DEP objected to St. Lucie County government tolerating a nude beach on what it sees as State-owned land.
So what is the root cause of the State's challenge to Blind Creek Beach's nude use? Some quick background history will help readers better understand.
Background History on the Dispute at Blind Creek Beach
About 15 years ago, St. Lucie County established Blind Creek Beach County Park as an isolated Hutchinson Island preserve located immediately north of the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant. Before the county park's officially startup, this same section of isolated shoreline was host to a long tradition of nude sunbathing and swimming. Begun as far back as the 1970s, the free beach attracted naturists from around North America. Skinny dippers encountered a pristine piece of coastline that was relatively free of arrests or harassment.
The Opening in 2014
In 2014, frank discussions between local naturist advocates, the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, and the St. Lucie County Attorney led to the recognition that this isolated stretch of beach and its tradition of family-oriented skinny dipping - did not run afoul of the state's anti-nudity statute (SS - 800.03). As long as lewd behavior did not occur, County deputies would quietly patrol the beach just like any other. And so a grand social experiment began where local government tolerated and even cooperated with a naturist not-for-profit, the Treasure Coast Naturists (TCN), in managing Blind Creek Beach. TCN patrols the shore, protects the sensitive dunes from human intrusion, funds and provides portable bathrooms to beach-goers, manages the parking lot, organizes beach clean-ups and town hall meetings, and operates a website (www.treasurecoastnaturists.org) that educates the uninitiated about the freer norms occurring at this county park.
The Economic Argument for Naturist Beaches
The economic rewards from Blind Creek Beach are impressive. The number of tourists flocking to St. Lucie County has significantly increased. Many are attracted to the Blind Creek Beach experiment, so much so that it is now the most visited beach in the county. A range of 500-1000 naturists show up on weekends. Hotel occupancy is up. Restaurants have been filled by a new niche of family tourists. Behind the scenes both the business community and county government administrators have witnessed the unexpected. Home to one of only three successfully established nude beaches in the State, St. Lucie County has found itself in an economic sweet spot.
Since its inception in 2014, Blind Creek Beach has been successfully branded worldwide as a tropical, isolated, and unspoiled paradise for naturists. Tourists now come from Europe, the Caribbean, and South America to experience it for themselves, fill up nearby hotel rooms, and enjoy the many local restaurants. It's understandably difficult for St. Lucie County to ignore this abundant new source of tourist dollars.
The Threat to Blind Creek Beach
Meanwhile in Tallahassee, DEP has repeatedly voiced objections to nude use on their land. DEP claims that since over 95 percent of Blind Creek Beach County Park's leased tracts are actually owned by DEP (and the State of Florida), the department insists that is has standing to object. As part of its purpose, DEP plays a primary role in administering and protecting the state's wild lands. Among others, these include the state park system, state wildlife refuges, and state preserves. What DEP overlooks is that it already has TCN as a committed environmental partner in helping to manage the county park.
For the past three years, DEP has repeatedly written threatening letters to St. Lucie County's government administrators. They continue to demand that the naturist use be shutdown or moved away from Blind Creek Beach. The response from St. Lucie County has been largely silent. With the backing of business leaders and others, the county has chosen to let the grand experiment continue and thrive.
The Discovery of Trouble in March 2019
After repeated rumors of pending trouble, in March 2019 TCN wrote a letter to a long-time Tallahassee naturist advocate and lobbyist. TCN asked his firm to investigate several key questions. Is Blind Creek Beach's naturist status actually in jeopardy? If true, how and why is it threatened? Last, who is at the heart of the objection?
Subsequent research in Tallahassee Uncovers a Real Threat
After careful research, the lobbyist discovered that yes, the State of Florida (through DEP) was getting ready to take immediate additional actions to compel St. Lucie County to close down all nude use of Blind Creek Beach. Since learning of this, TCN has committed to uncovering the answers and prevail in this dispute. The naturists refuse to back down or leave this beach. To win, TCN has officially hired the Florida lobbying firm of Maury Management Group. This company has a long successful record of representing both South Florida Free Beaches and Florida Naturists Association (SFFB) since 1994 and the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) in Tallahassee. Their normal purview is to watchdog and identify potentially harmful bills or legislation. But with TCN's recent hiring of Maury Management, a far more intensive, assertive, and expensive work plan has been set in motion.
A Two-Step Process Will Save Blind Creek Beach and Potentially Open the Rest of Florida to Naturist Beaches
According to principal Ramon Maury, there are two steps that must be undertaken. Timing is important too. As an added benefit, the concentrated effort to save Blind Creek Beach could also lead to reopening former clothing-optional beaches that Floridians lost in the 1980’s. Step 1 encompasses placing a hold on DEP's actions to quickly shut down Blind Creek Beach. Maury Management Group has opened up a dialog with each of the stakeholders in Tallahassee and is working to impose a temporary hold on all pending actions that might stop naturism at Blind Creek Beach.
Step II involves opening a conversation with the key players while the Florida legislature is still in session. We have one remaining month. Possible outcomes that appear to be within reach include rewriting state park rules and/or regulations that currently discourage the establishment of sanctioned nude beaches in Florida. Convincing arguments already underway include the economic perspective. Nude beaches are good for growing local economies, especially those that remain heavily dependent on tourist dollars and the service sector.
Is There Any Good News?
The good news is that Step 1 is underway and Step II has begun. But this fight is expensive. For it to be won, it will take more naturist donations.
What Can You Do? You can donate to the Cause
• Donate so that you may continue to visit Blind Creek Beach as a naturist and so that others across the USA and from foreign lands can continue to enjoy this pristine beach.
• Give so that we can also open up the opportunity for establishing more clothing-optional beaches around the State. At the moment, other international and regional naturist organizations around the country have been contacted by TCN for help.
• The Treasure Coast Naturists, the Naturist Action Committee, the Naturist Education Foundation, The Naturist Society Foundation, B.E.A.C.H.E.S. Foundation Institute, and South Florida Free Beaches have all committed financial and in-kind resources to the fight. AANR, through its national and Florida region, has also been asked to join the battle.
Please Help Save Blind Creek Beach
Please donate to TCN's Legal Defense Fund.
Donate to this GoFundMe campaign to help stop the threat, protect our nude beach, and possibly open new naturist opportunities across Florida.