Gulf of Mexico
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has taken sides in a controversy over public beach access in Walton County. (Photo: News Journal photo illustration)

OPINION Marlette: ‘Quiet title’ a scam for the sand

As the oily, sun-soaked days of summer are soon upon us, it’s worth talking about how Northwest Florida is a place with an identity crisis. We tout our region as a “conservative” community — a place that honors God-given freedoms, personal liberties and homegrown, working-folk values above the machinations of shiny-shoe-wearing people like fancy-pants politicians.

Except when it comes to our beaches.

The game is rigged when it comes to the prettiest property along the Gulf of Mexico. And if we’re not vigilant, it’s always working folks who end up losing access to a precious piece of nature that God created for all to enjoy.

The barrier island beachfront from Pensacola Beach to Navarre, thankfully, is somewhat immune to coastal con-artistry by virtue of being publicly owned by the citizens of Escambia County. It was a status quo so valued, in fact, that Escambia County voters backed it up with a resounding ballot referendum last year. And citizens are now asking county commissioners to codify the referendum with an official ordinance cementing citizens’ ownership of Santa Rosa Island.

But just a little east of here, without the blessing of publicly owned beaches, folks in Walton County have gotten worked over in a big, fat scam for the sand.

Read full article . . .