Martin County is a haven for nature enthusiasts and beach lovers seeking a relaxing vacation. With our stunning coastline, diverse wildlife, and lush natural beauty, the area offers a wealth of outdoor activities and attractions. But visitors and residents alike need to be mindful of our actions and the potential impacts on the environment.
Martin County recently launched our new Explore Natural Martin ecotourism program and became an official Leave No Trace partner. The internationally recognized non-profit organization that aims to protect natural lands by educating people how to explore the outdoors responsibly by following their 7 Principles.
In this post, we want to highlight some common practices that are actually eco-unfriendly – and some may surprise you! So without further ado, here are some things we should all avoid doing during our next getaway. Take note and feel free to share with a friend!
Leave the Seashells & Take Memories Instead
People love to visit the beach and collect seashells as souvenirs. However, removing seashells from the shoreline disrupts the delicate balance of the coastal ecosystem. Seashells serve as natural habitats for small organisms, and their removal can have a negative impact on local biodiversity. Instead, admire the seashells in their natural setting and opt to capture beautiful photos as lasting memories.
Respect Marine Wildlife
Martin County is blessed with an abundance of marine life, including sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, and various fish species. While it may be tempting to get close to these fascinating creatures, it is important to maintain a safe distance and respect their natural habitat. Avoid touching or feeding marine wildlife, as this can disrupt their behavior and feeding patterns. Admiring them from afar and supporting local conservation efforts will have a far more positive impact. You can find even more sea turtle tips here and check Explore Natural Martin’s upcoming events and eco-tours to learn more about our local marinelife!
Choose Sustainable Fishing Practices
For those interested in fishing, it’s crucial to adopt sustainable practices that help preserve the marine ecosystem. Respect size and bag limits, follow catch-and-release guidelines, and use barbless hooks to minimize harm to fish. Additionally, be mindful of where you fish and avoid sensitive areas, such as seagrass beds or coral reefs, which are critical habitats for marine life. Book with our local fishing charters to experience our world-class fishing responsibly.
Responsible Camping and Hammocking
Camping amidst Martin County’s natural beauty is a wonderful way to connect with nature. However, it is essential to minimize the impact on the environment. When setting up a hammock, always use tree protectors or straps to avoid damaging the trees’ bark. Remain in designated areas and only camp on durable surfaces. You can leave no trace by properly disposing of waste (including pet waste) and packing out all trash. It’s also important to use existing fire rings if s’mores are on the menu, and as always, be sure to follow all other local rules and regulations – as they say, “know before you go!”
Leave the Wildflowers Be
Martin County boasts an array of beautiful wildflowers that enhance its natural landscapes. However, picking wildflowers can disrupt pollination processes and hinder the ability of plants to reproduce. Similar to the seashell approach, appreciate the wildflowers in their natural habitat and refrain from plucking them. Instead, capture their beauty through photographs and let them flourish for others to enjoy (including all our animal friends).
Stick to Marked Trails
When hiking, cycling, or exploring our nature trails, it’s imperative to stay on designated paths and marked trails. Straying from established routes can harm fragile ecosystems, trample native vegetation, and disturb wildlife habitats. Venturing beyond those designated areas can also put yourself or others in danger, even if it seems harmless. Respect the signage and follow established trails to minimize your impact and preserve the natural integrity of the area. You can also pick up printed trail maps in many areas, or find digital versions published online.
Respect Nesting Areas
Martin County is a haven for numerous bird species, many of which rely on specific nesting sites. As a responsible tourist, it is crucial to respect these nesting areas and avoid disturbing them. And don’t forget about the shore-nesting birds! Refrain from approaching birds too closely, as this can cause stress and abandonment of nests. Keep a safe distance and observe these magnificent creatures from afar, using binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens. For a great birdwatching experience, visit the Possum Long Nature Center, home to the Audubon of Martin County.