Beach erosion threatens the very resource that residents and visitors enjoy. A combination of storm events and beach erosion has resulted in narrowed beach widths and minimal or non-existent dunes on St. Joseph Peninsula. These narrowed beaches provide inadequate protection to upland property from storms, often cannot support recreational use, and constitute stressed habitat for sea turtles, beach mice and marine life. Continued erosion on the peninsula has significantly reduced the amount of beach available for public use and recreation.
Historically, vehicles have been permitted below the natural vegetation line on the beaches adjacent to the aquatic preserve. However, due to recent erosion, high tides and exposed tree stumps often force drivers up onto the dry, sand area, damaging fore-dunes, pioneer dune vegetation, sea turtle nesting habitat and other important wildlife habitat. St. Joseph Peninsula serves as valuable nesting habitat for the threatened loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and the endangered green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Since 2002, however, sea turtle nesting numbers have drastically declined. Increasing development, lighting issues, recreational impacts and severely eroded shorelines may all play a role in this decline. The aquatic preserve recognizes the importance of the traditional uses of the local beaches and adjacent resources. Therefore the aquatic preserve will continue to coordinate with Gulf County, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Service, the Gulf Coast Conservation Association and the community to find solutions that will serve the people and this essential habitat for threatened and endangered nesting sea turtles.
Goal: Protect and conserve the natural dune vegetation and habitat from further impacts due to beach driving, erosion and artificial lighting on the beaches adjacent to the aquatic preserve.
February 27, 2019 - 8:50am
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.