There are no trash cans on Shell Key. No county employees are paid to remove trash from the island. All of the cleaning and unwanted trash removal is done by hard working volunteers and individual visitors just like you.
Why are we asking you to help clean up trash on the island? Even trash that is not yours?
Because we need your help to preserve the future of camping on Shell Key.
The county does not have the funding or resources to clean up after visitors to the island. However, they do have the authority to ban any activity that they believe is a threat to order and preservation of this preserve. We know – because it has happened before. We do not represent any official state or county authority. Yet we know that our continued right to camp on Shell Key absolutely depends on how well we can keep this island looking and functioning like a pristine ecosystem.
Camping Rules & Guidelines
Rules are enforced by county law enforcement as follows …
Overnight Camping the South Public Use Area Only
Primitive camping is allowed only on the South Public Use area of Shell Key.
Camping Permits are required for any overnight activity on Shell Key. Permits can be obtained for free from the county.
Leave No Trace
We are required to remove absolutely all trace of our camp – including food, refuse and anything that came with us on our boat.
You must remove all trace of your campfire before you leave. This means removing (not burying) all the charred wood from the fire. Remember that you are not at a permanent campsite. You are in a nature preserve and are required to leave no trace at all.
NEVER Cut Any Native Vegetation for Firewood
This is perhaps the worst thing that people can do to the island – because it can’t be cleaned up. Besides the fact that freshly cut wood on the island will barely burn, it is a blemish on the land that will take years to regrow. Please bring plenty of firewood with you and remove it from the island when you are done.
No Bottles Or Cans In The Campfire
As cool as it may be to watch your beverage bottles melt in the campfire, these things leave a nasty mess in an area where people regularly walk barefoot. And again, please remove all trace of your fire – even the partially burned wood and coals. Burying it is not good enough. Erosion will expose a buried campfire in no time.
Portable Toilets Required
The county requires all campers to bring a portable toilet for overnight activities. A simple DIY toilet can be made with a 5 gallon bucket, a trash bag and some sand. Place the trash bag in the bucket as a liner, put in a scoop of sand and use the toilet. When done, put another scoop of sand on top. Some people even bring some scented cat litter to use instead of sand.
Your brother’s keeper
We are asking you to, whenever possible, take a little extra trash off the island – even if it is not yours. The overwhelming majority of visitors to Shell Key are conscientious and tidy. Yet, a few inconsiderate visitors to the island have the ability to ruin it for the rest of us. Also, trash drifts onto Shell Key from the gulf and bay on a regular basis. If we don’t do it, it won’t get done. Keep a few garbage bags on the boat and grab a few items as you are strolling the beach or exploring the pines. You will feel great about making a difference. If a lot of people make a little effort, we can sustain this resource despite our growing local population..
No Pets or Alcohol
It doesn’t seem fair to leave the member of the family that would perhaps get the most joy out of island wilderness camping. However, pets are completely banned from the entire preserve including all of the aquatic boundaries. Read more about the pet ban. Alcohol is also forbidden within the preserve boundaries.
Please be considerate of nearby campers and keep loud noise or bright lights to a minimum at night.
- Sunscreen, First Aid & bug repellent.
- First Aid kit should include
- Water and Food
- Extra sunglasses, towels and a hat.
- Dress for worst case weather
- Fully charged Cell Phone
- Chairs, tent and bedding.
- Toilet Paper, garbage bags & portable toilet.
- Sandals or water shoes (see sandspurs!)