GSP installs handicap beach mat at Pavilion
Gulf State Park has added a handicap beach mat at the Saltwater Pavilion to ease access to the Gulf of Mexico.
This will make the total number five at the beach along the Alabama Gulf Coast. Gulf Shores has four it uses during the busy season but the new Gulf State Park mat will come up at the start of turtle nesting season.
“The beach access mats are currently on the beach overnight until May 1,” GSP’s Gary Ellis said. “Part of Alabama State Parks mission is to preserve natural areas and we want to purposefully balance the needs of our guests with the needs of our most treasured natural resource and take into consideration the effect the mats may have on nesting habitat for sea turtles and shore birds from May 1-Oct. 31.”
Gulf Shores Spokesman Grant Brown said his city keeps four out during the summer season after receiving permits from a federal agency. There are three of the mats at the main Gulf Place beach in season and one at East Gulf Place at the residents parking lot. Brown said the mats used in Gulf Shores cost about $15,000 apiece.
“US Fish and Wildlife must approve the use of the mats in advance of them being deployed due to the protected species of sea turtles, nesting sea birds, beach mice that may be impacted,” Brown said. “The matts in Gulf Shores have been approved.”
Ellis said the state park is looking at placing the mats on at least one of its three beach access points in Orange Beach areare currentlyt collaborating with environmental agencies on the feasibility of doing so.