LORRAINE THOMPSON: Reentry tags no long needed after mandatory evacuation

Hurricane season officially started Thursday and ends on Nov. 30, but those dates don’t mean anything to pending storms. The first 2017 named storm, Arlene, reached tropical storm strength on April 19. Arlene had no land impact and remained in the central Atlantic Ocean.

Last year’s devastating storm, Hurricane Matthew, impacted the lives of residents and businesses and changed the demographics of the county’s north beaches areas as well as parts of Anastasia Island.

It also changed the county’s reentry process after mandated storm evacuations.

In the past, reentry tags were issued to residents and business owners east of the Intracoastal Waterway and required proof of residency like a driver’s license, vehicle registration, or a utility bill. Green tags were issued for each documented registered vehicle. Business owners were issued two orange tags per business. While the tags were not mandatory, the goal was that they would contribute to a smoother and quicker reentry process as hundreds of residents returned home after a storm.

The tags will still be honored but they will no longer be issued once the current supply is exhausted. Reentry after future storms will now require one of the previously issued tags or other proof of residency (driver license, vehicle registration, utility bill). For more details, contact the St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center at 824-5550.

• Anastasia State Park, in partnership with Island Beach Grill, will host a Music in the Park event from 5-8 p.m. on June 17. Those musically inclined are welcome to bring an instrument for a jam session. Local musicians will be welcomed to the stage to showcase their talents from 5-6 p.m. Matt Fowler will perform from 6-8 p.m. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Future concerts will feature the Conch Fritters on July 15 and Those Guys on Aug. 19 from 6-8 p.m. and will be preceded by performances of local musicians from 5-6 p.m.

Concerts are free with paid park admission: $8 per vehicle with 2-8 people, $4 per single-occupant vehicle, $2 per pedestrian, bicyclists, extra passengers, and passengers in vehicle with holder of annual individual entrance pass. For information, call 461-2033

• Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Washington Oaks Gardens State Park will present a series of hands-on, saltwater fishing workshops in July to teach the basic techniques for catching fish as well as the importance of conservation and safety. The workshops are designed for two different age groups. Adult workshops, for ages 18 and older, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on July 6, July 13, July 20 and July 27. Youth workshops, for ages eight to 17, will take place from 9 a.m. to noon on July 7, July 14, July 21 and July 28. The cost of each workshop is $20 per participant, including the park entrance fee. Advance registration is required.

The workshops will focus on identification of local saltwater fish species and provide training on use of a fishing rod and reel along the bank of the Intracoastal Waterway. All fishing gear will be provided for each participant to use during the workshop, including complete rod, reel, fishing tackle and bait. Upon completion of the workshop, each participant will be awarded a certificate and a souvenir fishing packet. Snacks and beverages will be available during the workshops and participants may bring a bag lunch if desired.

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is located at 6400 North Oceanshore Boulevard, off A1A South in Palm Coast. For reservations or information, visit www.washingtonoaks.org or call 386-446-6783.

• The 2017 Music by the Sea Wednesday series, sponsored by the St. Augustine Beach Civic Association, features local music groups and signature dishes of area restaurants. The concerts are free. Visitors may bring their own food and beverages or purchase a dinner for $10 or less. The series runs through Sept. 13 from 6-9 p.m. each Wednesday at the St. Johns County Pier, 350 A1A Beach Boulevard. A different band or performer and restaurant are featured each week. Food is served at 6 p.m. The music begins at 7 p.m.

It’s advisable to bring your own beach chairs or a blanket for seating. Dogs are permitted as long as they are leashed. The remaining June schedule includes the combinations of music and restaurants featuring Those Guys and Seafood Kitchen on June 7, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg and Oyster Bar on June 14, Str8-Up and Panama Hatties on June 21 and Jax English Salsa Band and LaStrada Italian on June 28.

Parking is limited in and around Pier Park. There will, however, be a Park, Ride & Dance shuttle program from St. Augustine Beach City Hall, 2200 A1A S., and Ron Parker Park, 607 Old Beach Road. Parking is free at both locations. The shuttle will run a continuous loop from 5:45 p.m. until 10 p.m. Civic association members ride free. Non-members pay $1. Children 12 and under ride free with a paid adult. The shuttle is air conditioned and has room to accommodate coolers and beach chairs.

For civic association membership, the complete 2017 concert schedule, and other information, visit www.sabca.org, call 347-8007 or email sabcivic@yahoo.com

• Even with beach restoration efforts in still in progress, the number of sea turtle nests along St. Johns County beaches continues to increase. As of May 25 there were 80 nests including 65 on the north beaches, 14 on Anastasia Island, and one at Matanzas Inlet South.

Perhaps the most surprising finds are two Kemp’s ridley nests. The Kemp’s ridley is the rarest species of sea turtles and is considered critically endangered. Their nests are more commonly found on Gulf Coast beaches and infrequently on Atlantic beaches.

Beachgoers are asked to report any marine animals in distress to the sheriff’s dispatch at 824-8304. For further information, visit www.sjcfl.us/HCP/index.aspx.

Have news to share about Anastasia Island or the adjoining areas? Send your information about people and events to staugbeachwatch@aol.com, or call 471-4851.

Contributed to the St. Augustine Record by Lorraine Thompson, June 2, 2017