Local community members concerned about the coastal environment founded Keepers of the Coast, a 501(c)3 non profit organization, in 2007. In partnership with St. Johns County Habitat Conservation, Keepers of the Coast originally offered an Adopt-A-Beach program to help raise awareness of coastal clean up and preservation among our coastal community. Our local beaches house sea turtles, the Anastasia Island Beach Mouse, countless shore birds including the Least Tern, and simultaneously provide a number of recreational opportunities for residents and visitors as well. From triathlons, to paddle tennis tournaments, to recreational fishing, to surfing, our beaches are a true testament to the quality of life enjoyed by people who spend time in St. Johns County.
Keepers of the Coast began as a small group of residents concerned about local conservation issues, specifically those affecting the beaches and oceans so important to the founding members. It was decided that the top funding priorities would be to focus on coastal education and stewardship projects. To that end, Keepers of the Coast set out to organize the first annual Sea Turtle Education Festival held at the St. Augustine Pier during the month of April, just prior to the sea turtle nesting season, which runs May-October. The positive community response to the Sea Turtle Festival further instilled in founding members’ minds how educating the public is one part of conservation work, but actually conducting stewardship is another piece of the puzzle that’s just as important. Keepers of the Coast then organized beach cleanups prior to and during the sea turtle nesting season to further engage the community in playing an active part in caring for their local beaches, not only for their own recreational enjoyment but also to the benefit of the coastal wildlife that utilizes this important habitat. Keepers of the Coast has also supported a multitude of small education or conservation projects including, installing cigarette butt container at beach parks, supporting 4H Marine Ecology program, and working with local community groups.
Keepers of the Coast is always in the process of further developing its long-term plan of action. With so many items on the coastal conservation “to do” list it’s definitely a large task! During the course of 2014 Keepers of the Coast will continue to identify an action plan that allows for a paced growth with assessment over time to ensure that donated funds are utilized for worthy and unique local conservation needs. If you feel you can contribute 10 hours per month or more to assisting in the future development of Keepers of the Coast, please contact us, we’d love to hear from you.