We and many of our friends have been going to Ship Island for between fifteen and twenty years. It’s a beautiful and natural place. We have met many different types of people some of whom were there for their one visit for their entire lifetime and some who revisit over and over again. Some people take care of the island picking up not only their own trash and hauling it home but also trash washed ashore or left behind by others. Then there are those who think nothing of tossing trash, cans, plastic, and bent fishing lures into the dunes. Some trash is just too large for people like us to cart away.
In years gone by if we spotted something like this old plumbing pipe we could call a Park Ranger and he or she would ride around on their four wheeler and help us haul it off. I realize that’s outside the scope of their duties and now hopefully the beach renovation underway will cover stuff like this up for a long long time, at least until the next hurricane rolls through.
In the past the Park Rangers have been the friendliest folks in the world. But there are a couple of new ones in the last year or so that are more interested in harassing topless women for not being properly dressed than helping to look after the welfare of the island itself. It bothers me to see a person of authority on the island actually ride up into the dunes where the dune grass grows on a four wheeler as I witnessed on August 13, 2011. It would seem like the Park Rangers of all people would be educated in the importance of preserving those grasses on a delicate barrier island.
Now please understand that most of the Rangers have always been invested in the care of the island. It’s just that in the last year or two the attitude of the National Park Service seems to be drifting more towards running off the nudists who sunbathe in seclusion on the far end of the island than taking care of and educating visitors in the fragile ecosystem they are immersing themselves in. Somewhere up the food chain there is a person who is undertaking an endeavor to press their personal religious views on the people who worship the sun and waves. And in that process they are chasing off the people who take the most care in the preservation of the island. It makes no sense to go so far out of one’s way to find people to persecute for a difference of opinion and lifestyle.
Yes, it’s true, if you’re just figuring this out there are those who visit the very far end of Ship Island to be able to sunbathe and swim without the burden of clothes. Big deal, they don’t bother anyone and if anyone doesn’t want to see them then they don’t have to hike the two miles across the island to get to them. But my main point of this rant is to point out that the Park Service should concentrate on the preservation of the island ecosystem and enforcing FEDERAL laws, not local ordinances.
And certainly don’t be driving those four wheelers over the dunes through the grasses.
The illustration below should help you to get your priorities straight. Please study it carefully.