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Island honored with 5 Clean Beaches awards

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Local officials and members of the national Clean Beaches Coalition raise the “Blue Wave” Nov. 14 at Coquina Beach, designating the beach one of America’s cleanest and eco-friendly beaches. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, county parks and recreation director Cindy Turner and other elected officials and staff were presented with five blue flags emblematic of a “Blue Wave” award for a clean beach in ceremonies at Coquina Beach Nov. 14.

Clean Beaches Coalition founder and president Walter McLeod presented the flags, saying it was unusual to find five beaches on one island that met the criteria to receive the “Blue Wave” flag and designation.

The first flag was raised at Coquina Beach as Turner thanked the parks and recreation staff, who work seven days a week to keep the beaches clean of trash and seaweed. She also thanked the Keep Manatee Beautiful organization, the city of Bradenton Beach and the volunteers who regularly walk the beach picking up trash and cigarette butts.

In addition to Coquina Beach, the flags are designated for Manatee Public Beach, Cortez Beach, the boat ramp across from Coquina Beach and Bean Point in Anna Maria.

Turner noted that, in 2011, Parents magazine voted Coquina Beach as one of America’s Top 10 Best Beaches for Families. She hopes the other beaches will make the Top 10 list in the future.

McLeod said the “Blue Wave” program began 13 years ago and was the first national environmental certification for beaches.

Anna Maria Island beaches and other area beaches were surveyed in May for the Blue Wave criteria, which includes cleanliness and a dedication to environmentally friendly projects.

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