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Florida Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan

Florida Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan

Florida’s world famous beaches are enjoyed by millions of visitors and residents each year and are also home for threatened and endangered coastal wildlife like sea turtles, shorebirds, seabirds and beach mice. To better share the beach, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, an appointed steering committee, and stakeholders, has drafted a Florida Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan. The draft Plan will:

  • Cover beachfront construction in 25 Florida counties with established coastal construction control lines, plus sandy beaches in Monroe County
  • Guide the Department and permit applicants in avoiding, minimizing and mitigating threats to coastal wildlife through coastal construction permits
  • Set clear wildlife protection standards for coastal construction and beach operations
  • Incorporate innovative technologies to make regulatory data more accessible and impact assessments more predictable
  • Balance human social, economic and recreational needs with long-term protection of threatened and endangered species on Florida’s beaches and dunes

Threatened and Endangered Coastal Wildlife on Florida’s Beaches and Dunes

In order to provide more protection to coastal wildlife listed as federally threatened and endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department is focusing the Plan’s protective measures on twelve species or types of animals:

  • Five sea turtles:  Green (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempi)
  • Five beach mice:  Choctawhatchee beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus allphrys), Southeastern beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus niveiventris), St. Andrews beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus peninsularis), Anastasia Island beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus phasma) and Perdido Key beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus trissyllepsis)
  • Two shorebirds:  Red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) and Piping plover (Charadrius melodus)

In addition, six other types of coastal wildlife are likely candidates for future federal listing and are covered in the Plan:

  • Five beach nesting birds:  American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus), Black skimmer (Rynchops niger), Least tern (Sternula antillarum), Snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus tenuirostris) and Wilson’s plover (Charadrius wilsonia)
  • Santa Rosa beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus leucocephalus)

Basic Elements of the Habitat Conservation Plan Include:

  • List of activities and species for which incidental take authorization is being requested
  • Description of the plan area
  • Identification of potential impacts resulting from the proposed action
  • List of alternatives to the proposed action
  • Duration of the Permit
  • Minimization and mitigation measures
  • Funding and implementation of the Plan

Plan Development

The intent of the draft Florida Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan is to accompany an application for a federal Incidental Take Permit to cover activities permitted by Florida’s Coastal Construction Control Line Program.  Incidental Take Permits are processed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the federal Endangered Species Act and, if issued, are valid for 25 years. 

    Stakeholder Involvement

    To assist in the development of the Plan, the initial structure of the planning process included a steering committee and a working group of stakeholders appointed by the Secretary of the Department.

    Steering Committee

    • Florida Department of Environmental Protection
    • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Chair)
    • Florida Department of Community Affairs (until 2011)
    • Florida Association of Counties
    • Florida League of Cities
    • Lee County Tourism Development Council (hotel/tourism)
    • Audubon Society (conservation group)
    • Sea Turtle Conservancy (conservation group)
    • Humiston and Moore Engineers (regulated industry)

    Working Group Staff

    • Florida Department of Environmental Protection
    • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    • Florida Natural Areas Inventory
    • Contractors

    Next Steps

    The draft Florida Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan was approved by the Steering Committee and shared with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the spring of 2019.  Prior to implementation of the Plan and requirements of an associated federal Incidental Take Permit, the Florida Legislature must authorize changes to coastal construction policies in state law, Chapter 161, Florida Statutes.

    Related Links of Interest

    Documents [to be available on this website when completed]

    • Draft Florida Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Incidental Take Permit Application

    For more information on the Florida Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan, email or

    Last Modified:
    June 21, 2021 - 11:02am

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