A follow-up lighting survey has been completed on Jekyll Island and compared to the May survey, conditions are improving.
Mark Dodd, senior wildlife biologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, conducted a lighting survey Thursday night on the beaches of Jekyll Island, accompanied by Ben Carswell, director of conservation for the Jekyll Island Authority, and Katie Mascovich, a graduate student and research assistant for Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Dodd surveyed the beach from the former 4-H Center on the south end of the island, north up to Brice Avenue. Dodd conducted an earlier survey in May.
Compared to Dodd’s May survey, nine of the lighting violations have been resolved, eight violations persisted and two new violations were identified.
Dodd noted four violations on Jekyll Island Authority properties, including:
• Lighting at the Great Dunes Pavilion – the north and south facing recessed lights in the pavilion posts are not shielded;
• Light emanating from vents in the bathhouse at Great Dunes Park, near the volleyball court (lights that are currently on a timer);
• Street lamps located on North Beachview Drive and Borden Street need to be shielded, a Georgia Power issue; and
• Three lamps that JIA manages at Tortuga Jack’s need to be lowered or removed.
Meggan Hood, JIA’s senior director for marketing, said the authority has resolved all issues with the exception of the street lamps that are owned and managed by Georgia Power. JIA and DNR have both issued requests to Georgia Power to remedy the issue.
In the survey, Dodd also noted lighting issues for the Westin Hotel, Holiday Inn Resort, Days Inn & Suites and the Beachview Club.
The Westin has decreased its number of violations since the May survey — balcony lights and the overall amount of light emitting from the hotel because of them remains a violation. Those lights, hotel officials say, require special fixtures and specialty light bulbs, all of which, in May, were being sourced by The Westin.
According to Dodd’s report, the Holiday Inn also has similar violations, as do the Days Inn and the Beachview Club hotels. The problem comes from incorrect fixtures or light bulbs of the wrong wavelength. As he stated earlier, Dodd said the fix is not as simple as getting an orange or red lightbulb; the correct bulb must be found that emits light at the proper wavelength.
In his comments on the survey findings, Carswell noted that some of the Westin’s bulbs were replaced with the correct ones Friday and all JIA problems were corrected, with the exception of the Georgia Power-owned lights.
One problem at the Days Inn involving 36 lights is due to a change in the dune structure, Carswell said. Unshielded lights are now shining out onto the beach due to the dune structure change.
JIA Executive Director Jones Hooks said, “Making our beaches safe for both turtles and people is incredibly important to the JIA. We take beach lighting very seriously and have one of the strictest lighting ordinances along the Atlantic coast. We have already worked with our facilities team to resolve all JIA issues and we will continue to work with the island businesses to ensure their issues are resolved as soon as possible.”
Hood said progress on resolving lighting issues can now be tracked online on jekyllisland.com/documents, under the ordinances section.
Dodd’s current survey as well as his May survey can also be found in the same section. Carswell plans to update this tracking document until all JIA ordinance violations are resolved.