Duo tests limits of beach access in Walton County

Duo tests limits of beach access in Walton County

Last week, an executive order from the governor urged state agencies and local governments to encourage beach access for the public. However, this weekend authorities were called when two beachgoers set up near a gated community in Walton County.

A clash between the beachgoers, security guards, and Walton County Sheriff's deputies was caught on video over the weekend.

Beachgoer Daniel Uhlfelder and a friend were first told by a security guard at the gated Vizcaya Community they were trespassing - just like they had the day before.

The guard was unable to show Uhlfelder where the property line was.

"I really didn't get a straight answer, so then we went back and sat on the beach," he said.

Uhlfelder said the deputies who came were respectful as they tried to explain what is legal and what's not.

"I felt I was somewhere between "The Twilight Zone" and "Alice in Wonderland." The sheriff was very nice and I didn't get the impression they wanted to be there. I think they have more important things to do," he said.

In the video, deputies can be seen walking Uhlfelder to the water's edge.

Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson has reviewed the body cam video of the incident. He siad his deputies acted properly, but shouldn't be put in that position.

"This is an issue that should be decided in a court of law or by the Florida legislature. It should not be decided by a deputy sheriff on the beach. That's the bottom line with that," Sheriff Adkinson said.

The sheriff said the dispute speaks to the confusion that surrounds the entire issue, but he said the pair coming to a section of beach that has security was not a coincidence.

"It's clearly to make a point. What I don't want is the Walton County Sheriff's Office tied up in the middle of it," he said.

Both men moved and no one was arrested, but nothing was settled in a dispute that is far from over.

State Rep. Brad Drake is hosting a town hall meeting on the issue at the Walton High School auditorium at 6:30 p.m. on Monday.

A second meeting will be held at the same time Tuesday at South Walton High School.

Sheriff Adkinson plans to attend both meetings. The public is invited.

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