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Mangrove Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a mangrove?
  2. Why are mangroves so important?  Why do I need to get a permit just to trim or remove them?
  3. Is there a time of year that is best for trimming?
  4. How are mangrove heights measured? What does it mean to measure from the substrate?
  5. What is a Riparian Mangrove Fringe, and how do I know if I have one?
  6. What is the Shoreline? Is it the mean high water line?
  7. What is a Professional Mangrove Trimmer (PMT), and when do I need to use one?
  8. How do I know if I can trim my mangroves myself, or if I need to hire a professional mangrove trimmer (PMT)?
  9. What do I do if I have mangroves growing over my dock and I can’t use it? Can I trim or remove mangroves that are growing against my seawall and cracking it?
  10. Can I clear mangroves so I can access the water and launch my kayak?
  11. I don’t want to remove my mangroves, but I would like to trim them to lower than 6 feet. Can I do this, and how?

1. What is a mangrove?

The 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act defines a mangrove as any specimen of the species Laguncularia racemosa (white mangrove), Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove) or Avicennia germinans (black mangrove). The Mangrove Act does not distinguish between living and dead mangroves, so the same trimming regulations apply to each.

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2. Why are mangroves so important? Why do I need to get a permit just to trim or remove them?

Mangroves are important for many reasons, and mangrove trimming is regulated under Section 403.9321-403.9334, F.S., “Mangrove Act.” Mangroves serve as a key ecological component in several ecosystems, including serving as a nursery for many game and sport fisheries. For more information about mangroves, their adaptations, and their importance to both the environment and people, please see our YouTube video, Identification and Ecological Functions of Mangroves or the Mangrove Trimming Guidelines for Homeowners.

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3. Is there a time of year that is best for trimming?

Yes. Trimming between the months of October and March is most desirable. This is the time of year that mangroves experience the least amount of growth, so any trimming will affect them the least as it will not cut off new growth. However, for some northern areas in Florida, be sure not to trim during or around a freeze event, as this can accentuate harm done to the tree by both the freeze and the trim and may cause mortality.

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4. How are mangrove heights measured? What does it mean to measure from the substrate?

Mangrove heights are measured from the substrate. The substrate is where the tree meets the ground and where the trunk is rooted into the soil. This is measured by taking a survey pole and placing it at the base of the tree where the trunk meets the ground (even if the mangrove is covered by water).

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5. What is a Riparian Mangrove Fringe, and how do I know if I have one?

A Riparian Mangrove Fringe (RMF) is a term used in the Mangrove Act (403.9325(7), F.S.) to classify when mangroves are exempt to trim or not. A RMF is where mangroves growing along the shoreline of the property owner do not extend more than 50 feet waterward. This measurement is taken from the most landward mangrove trunk to the most waterward mangrove trunk, in a line perpendicular to the shoreline. For more information about RMFs and exempt trimming activities, please see our YouTube video, Mangrove Act Exemptions.

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6. What is the Shoreline? Is it the mean high water line?

The Shoreline is the jurisdictional boundary where the wetlands and other surface waters meet the uplands. It can be the MHWL, but can also be above the MHWL in some cases.

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7. What is a Professional Mangrove Trimmer (PMT), and when do I need to use one?

A PMT is a person who has met the qualifications under the Mangrove Act (403.9329, F.S.). PMTs are required for all general permits and certain exempt activities. They are also recommended for Individual permits used for trimming. Contact your district office or delegation for more information.

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8. How do I know if I can trim my mangroves myself, or if I need to hire a professional mangrove trimmer (PMT)?

Homeowners are exempt to trim their mangroves when the mangroves are in a Riparian Mangrove Fringe and are no more than 10 feet in height; so long as the homeowner does not trim the mangroves below 6 feet in height and does not defoliate any mangrove. If the mangroves are more than 10 feet in height, the homeowner will need to hire a PMT, but they still may be exempt. If the mangroves are not considered to be in a RMF, the homeowner will need to get a permit and a PMT. For more information about permitting requirements for mangrove trimming, please see our YouTube video, April 2015 FDEP Mangrove Webinar, or contact your district office.

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9. What do I do if I have mangroves growing over my dock and I can’t use it? Can I trim or remove mangroves that are growing against my seawall and cracking it?

The Mangrove Act does provide an additional alteration exemption for these cases (403.9328(5), F.S.). A homeowner is exempt to trim or alter mangroves if the trimming or alteration is part of certain exempt or permitted ERP activities. In this case, it means that the homeowner would be exempt to trim or alter (if necessary) the mangroves within the footprint of their docking structure, and any mangrove branches hanging over the dock that impede access. The homeowner also would be exempt to trim or alter mangroves growing into their seawall as a maintenance/repair of their seawall. If you think you fall into this alteration exemption, contact your district office with a description and pictures of the situation before beginning any activities.

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10. Can I clear mangroves so I can access the water and launch my kayak?

The trimming exemptions and general permits in the Mangrove Act do not provide for mangrove removal. If you want to remove any mangroves on your property, then you may have to apply for an Individual permit, and mitigation may be required. However, the Mangrove Act does allow for exempt trimming and/or removal of mangroves associated with certain ERP activities. For more information or to see if your ERP activity qualifies, please contact your district office or see our YouTube video Mangrove Act Exemptions.

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11. I don’t want to remove my mangroves, but I would like to trim them to lower than 6 feet. Can I do this, and how?

The Mangrove Act’s exemption and general permit sections allow only the trimming of mangroves to a height of no lower than 6 feet (so long as the mangroves are not defoliated). If you feel the need to trim your mangroves lower than 6 feet, you will have to apply for an individual permit at your district office or delegation. Please be aware that there may be mitigation required for using the individual permit. If you have any questions, contact your district office before you apply. For more information about individual permits and mitigation, please see our YouTube video Mangrove Act Individual Permits, Trimming Styles & Enforcement

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Last Modified:
November 7, 2017 - 11:42am

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