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Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council calling for ban on horseback riding on bay

Posted at 7:02 PM, Jun 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-21 20:16:03-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council is asking the Pinellas County Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to ban recreational horseback-riding in the waters of Tampa Bay, just north of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

The council's executive director, Sean Sullivan, told ABC Action News his concerns are two-fold: the protection of seagrass, and the addition of nitrogen to the water due to waste the horses leave behind.

"Quite frankly, it’s not the best use of the aquatic preserve, by any stretch of the imagination," Sullivan said.

Kimberly Kult, who manages a company that provides rides out into the Bay, disagrees with the council's position. She said she does not worry about the water quality, adding since the horses eat hay and oats, their organic waste is not that different from the waste of aquatic animals.

“On the days that I work and I have no one to help me care for my children, they come with me and they snorkel in this water, right behind the horses," Kult said.

Kult says her company, "C Ponies", has been working to avoid paths in the water that have seagrass.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife considers seagrass an essential part of Florida's marine environment, as it serves as both a food source and a habitat for certain aquatic animals.