TAMPA (WFLA) – It’s the thing romance novels and marriage proposals are made of; horseback riding on the beach. Some nature lovers are hating on some popular tourist businesses and the mess they’re leaving behind.
On a hot summer day in Tampa Bay, the beach is a popular place for humans and animals.
“This is Nova. She’s a Mustang,” says Julie Scanlon about her horse.
For a group of friends riding their horses on the beach and in the water is what makes living in the Bay Area great.
“The sun and the sea. What could be better than that with your horse,” says Scanlon.
They’re not the only ones. Small businesses cater to tourists taking riders out into the water to see the majesty that is found at Skyway Beach in Pinellas County.
“We see dolphins, manatees, the fish will literally swim right around us. I mean, you really are right up in there with the wildlife,” says Monika Bruehsel with Cypress Breeze Farm.
But there are concerns these animals are trampling through aquatic preserves and killing seagrass.
“Horses being larger animals have more to leave behind,” says Sean Sullivan with the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.
There are moves to prohibit horseback riding in aquatic preserves. Something the horse riding businesses and local riders don’t want to see.
“This is Florida! We’re surrounded by waters and they don’t let us take them to a lot of places, and the few places we do, yeah I would definitely fight it,” says Roxanne Hujar who also likes to ride her horse at the beach.
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council is now working to amend the management plan for aquatic preserves. That will have to be approved by Pinellas County and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.