In the early 1990’s, the sandbar just south of Pass-a-Grill Beach known as Shell Island joined with it’s neighboring island to the south to form one contiguous island.
In 2000, Pinellas County acquired a lease from the State of Florida to establish Shell Key (a.k.a. Shell Island) as a Wildlife Preserve. The state lease includes all the submerged areas spanning to the Pinellas Bayway. At that time, new rules regarding alcohol and public use were enacted to comply with the requirements of the state lease.
In 2007, the plan came up for it’s scheduled review and update. After several months of public debate and input from various interests, County staff began formulating proposals to restrict camping, alcohol and pets from Shell Key.
Beginning in April, 2007 shellkey.org offered the idea of camping by permit as an alternative to the proposed camping ban.
After consulting with other campers, environmental groups and county staff, we began to receive support for our ideas from representatives of environmental groups as well as County staff in the Environmental Lands division. Eventually, our idea to preserve camping under a permit system was included in the 2007 SK Management Plan.
** see our original plan to find practical solutions to the challenge of balancing public use with environmental protection.
By October of 2007, County staff formally included camping by permit into the draft plan. In December, The County Commission formally approved the plan.