Mangrove trimming is protected and permitted under sections 403.9321-403.9333 of the Florida Statutes, the 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. What followed was the Great Mangrove Massacre. State environmental regulators report getting hundreds of calls about the new legislation. The Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act, while complex, marks an important effort to balance these objectives in a way that preserves property values for owners while protecting the environment for the benefit of all Floridians. To qualify as a Fringe, the mangrove area must measure no more than 50 feet from the most landward mangrove trunk to the trunk of the most waterward tree. “I’ve lived here 30 years, and I could not see the water from my house,” said Salu Devnani, a homeowner on old Tampa Bay, who vigorously cut his trees and set off a firestorm when local nature lovers and fishermen saw his handiwork. Since the 1940s, about 86% of the mangroves in Florida have been lost—50% in the Tampa Bay region alone. This is also true for mangroves previously trimmed under a general permit, but for which additional or greater trimming is now desired. This is about mangrove trees--one of the most biologically important but loathed plants in Florida, where they grow like towering, wonderful weeds at the water’s edge. Kathleen A. Baxter, founder and owner of Coastal Planting Service, served by personal request of the late Governor Chiles on the Mangrove Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) which was given the task of writing the 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act (1996 MTPA) which presently governs mangrove trimming. and mangrove forest restoration, per Florida’s Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. 403.9321 Short title.— Sections 403.9321 - 403.9333 may be cited as the “Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act.” History.—s. History. Increased population also means increased pollution, reduced natural habitat, and greater demand for water and recreational access. Increased regulations apply to trees greater than 10 feet in height prior to trimming, and those greater than 16 feet in height before trimming are subject to greater regulation still. This distinction arises from the belief that mangrove habitats greater than 50 feet have an increased ecological importance and thus warrant a greater level of protection. Mangrove trimming and preservation act. The State of Florida has over 8,000 miles of coastline[i], second only to Alaska among U.S. states. At the same time, the Mangrove Act affirms the rights of waterfront property owners, specifically including the homeowners’ “riparian right of view.”. All three species grow in close proximity to one another, but each is specially adapted to inhabit a different area of the shoreline. And so, Republican state Rep. Jack Latvala from the Tampa area pledged he was going to take a stand. The Reed decision led to the 1995 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act, which substantially changed Florida's mangrove protection statutes. In 1996, the state passed the Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act to provide that protection, she pointed out. Lawton Chiles signed, Latvala’s controversial Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act of 1995. L.A. County tightens COVID-19 restrictions today: What you need to know. The MTPA governs how mangroves are managed in the state, unless you live in one of the delegated local governments. If peculiar or unusual circumstances exist related to the property, homeowners may wish to hire an environmental attorney to assist in obtaining the permit. Before trimming, the mangroves must not exceed 10 feet in height. Where once tangled fringes existed along shorelines, there are now neat hedges. The trees also control erosion, filter pollution and protect against hurricane damage. Other preservation efforts have included mangrove replenishment initiatives. The Mangrove Act attempts to walk this tightrope by limiting mangrove trimming without outright banning alterations. These professionals may be arborists, wetland scientists, ecologists, or others who can meet the statutory guidelines.[v]. Many homeowners aspire to live on the coast so they can enjoy the waterfront lifestyle. The first scheme allows relatively limited mangrove trimming to occur “exempt” from any permitting requirements. Homeowners, or in some instances a Professional Mangrove Trimmer, can pursue these activities without any interaction with government agencies. Critics like Latvala said it was a royal pain in the neck. TheReed decision led to the 1995 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act, which substantially changed Florida’s mangrove protection statutes. “They are the most productive food web that anyone has ever measured,” said James Beever, perhaps the state’s most eminent mangrove biologist at the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Mangrove trimming under a general permit is not limited to the Riparian Mangrove Fringe and can continue up to 500 feet waterward from the most landward mangrove tree. These rights are typically referred to as “riparian rights.”, Riparian rights provide the legal outline of the activities a homeowner can expect to enjoy when purchasing property that is on the water. A “window” through the bushes could be trimmed here--but not there. State Authorized Professional Mangrove Trimmers (PMTs) S. 403.9329 of the Mangrove Act states the qualifications for persons considered to be ‘professional mangrove trimmers’ and states the requirements for persons who desire to be state mangrove trimmers. Other mangrove stands, they admit, might be more precious. When the desired mangrove trimming exceeds the amount permitted under the exemptions, the mangrove trimming is regulated by the second regulatory scheme, known as the “general permit” process. Mangroves can be trimmed in a variety of ways to provide a pleasing view while protecting the health of the tree. Finally, the Mangrove Act provides for enforcement requirements. Do not send any confidential information to us, unless and until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established, as memorialized in a formal, written engagement agreement. will not create or establish an attorney-client relationship. The law also allows for the “grandfathering” of mangrove trimming that exceeds the standards set out in the code, if a homeowner can demonstrate that an increased level of trimming existed prior to the enactment of the Mangrove Act. California breaks record for hospitalizations. This article will help homeowners understand their rights and the regulations concerning any mangroves that exist on, or  adjacent to, their property. Mangroves form an important part of the ecology of South Florida, and through legislation, Florida has decided to protect and preserve these trees. The higher level of scrutiny and potential for mitigation requirements makes the hiring of an environmental scientist practically mandatory when seeking an individual permit. The maze of roots in the water creates shelters that function as natural fish hatcheries and nurseries, collects organic material to support the coastal ecology, and provides important habitat for birds and reptiles. But it does not look like it will be easy. 1996 Mangrove Trimming & Preservation Act 403.9321 Short title. If red mangroves are being trimmed for the first time, notice to DEP must be provided. Mangroves aren’t just beneficial; they’re essential. Mangroves cannot be removed, trimmed, or disturbed without a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Whether the activity will adversely affect navigation or the flow of water or cause harmful erosion or shoaling. All work is done under the guidelines of the Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act and under the supervision of a Certified Mangrove Trimmer to ensure compliance. Whether the activity will adversely affect the conservation of fish and wildlife, including endangered or threatened species, or their habitats. The new rules, affecting stores, playgrounds and gatherings, are less severe than the stay-at-home order initiated in the spring. The Florida Statutes itemize riparian rights as including “rights of ingress, egress, boating, bathing, and fishing and such others as may be or have been defined by law.”[iii] In one of the most important rulings concerning riparian rights, the Florida Supreme Court noted that, “An upland owner must in all cases be permitted a direct, unobstructed view of the Channel.”[iv]. However, the courts and the Florida legislature have recognized that when upland property abuts the water, that upland property includes certain rights by virtue of its adjacency. Since 1950, development in the state has resulted in the loss of “roughly 80% of our mangrove shorelines.” Yet, she continued, mangroves are vital in the environment. Gatherings with anyone other than household members is banned in new county protocols. Sections 403.9321-403.9333, Florida Statutes, may be cited as the "Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act." 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act: 403.9321 Short Title -- Sections 403.9321 - 403.9333 may be cited as the "Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act." Great for crabs, fish and birds. For more information, contact Kathryn Rossmell at krossmell@llw-law.com and Seth Behn and sbehn@llw-law.com. [iv] Hayes v. Bowman, 91 So.2d 795, 801 (Fla. 1957). The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners subsequently adopted a countywide ordinance regulating the trimming of mangroves. In 1845, Florida was granted statehood and joined the United States. After a brief description of mangroves and their environmental significance, this article provides an overview of riparian rights and outlines the provisions of the Mangrove Act most critical to Florida’s waterfront homeowners. For more information, see General Overview of Riparian Rights in Florida, Andrew J. Baumann, Esquire, which can be found at https://www.llw-law.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/General-Overview-of-Riparian-Rights-in-Florida.pdf. For a homeowner to do the trimming without hiring a Professional Mangrove Trimmer: If a Professional Mangrove Trimmer will perform the work, a greater level of trimming may qualify for an exemption. DEP reviews individual permits using the criteria found in Section 373.414, Florida Statutes. Why all the fuss? And yet, the conservationists and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection also are being blamed for the massacre--for promulgating rules and regulations in the past that critics say were so complicated, so mind-numbingly detailed and unrealistic, that the current backlash was almost inevitable. In addition no more than 65% of the mangrove area can be trimmed and trimming must be carried out so that no more than 25% of the foliage is removed annually. Here are some of the highlights: The Ecological Importance of Mangroves. After the general permit requirements are followed, subsequent maintenance of the mangrove height is allowed under the exemption rules. It seemed so simple, and the time so politically ripe for a no-nonsense Republican solution to the most vexing environmental problem in a state overwhelmed with vexing environmental problems. [v] Fla. Stat. In an effort to preserve and protect the remaining mangroves in the county, the Board of County Commissioners sought and received a delegation from the state of Florida to enforce the state’s Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. We do not intend to treat as confidential, any information sent to us via this website and, such information could be used against you in the future. This ability to move into the water means mangroves help create new islands and land. When canvassing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) offices state wide, she had been recommended to him by every DEP office he contacted within Florida as "the expert" on mangrove trimming. § 403.9329 provides the qualifications and requirements to be certified as a Professional Mangrove Trimmer. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. These include fines levied for every tree illegally modified or destroyed. At that moment, all navigable waterways became the property of the State of Florida. In some spots, trees were cut to the ground. Together, the red, black, and white mangroves form a rare and important ecological system in South Florida and play critical roles in anchoring the shoreline, providing unique habitats, and cleaning the water. The third distinction found throughout the Mangrove Act concerns the height of the mangrove trees prior to trimming. If greater than 150 feet, only 65% of its length can be trimmed. Latvala and the bill’s other outspoken supporters pledge to amend the new law. Preparing this application typically requires the assistance of an environmental scientist. Our teams are licensed to permit and trim mangroves in the state of Florida. Any mangrove trimming that exceeds the limits for an exemption or a general permit requires an individual permit. IV. (1) The Legislature finds that there are over 555,000 acres of mangroves now existing in Florida. 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act; University of Florida IFAS (Extension Office) Contact Us Coral Gables City Hall 405 Biltmore Way Coral Gables, FL 33134 Tel: 305-446-6800 Fax: 305-460-5371 Hearing or Speech Impaired Telecommunication: TTY/TDD: 305-442-1600 Contact Us. To make matters worse, the state environmental agency basically threw up its hands, saying the new legislation took away most--if not all--of the agency’s enforcement powers. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice and does not establish a lawyer-client relationship. The state’s environmental regulators often insisted on visiting the site and battling with property owners over each cut. Staff biologists and arborists work closely with homeowners and trimmers to protect the important … The Pinellas County Commission subsequently adopted a Countywide ordinance regulating the trimming of mangroves. Yet the state legislators and the courts recognize the value and importance of a homeowner’s riparian rights, including the right of access and a view. Whether the activity will adversely affect the public health, safety, or welfare or the property of others. The trees cannot be cut shorter than 6 feet as measured from the substrate. They make up Florida’s southern and aquatic vegetation salt-water areas. Filing for an individual permit requires a greater level of detail both in the submittal  package and the review by DEP. Similar to the exempt trimming limitations, no tree may be cut shorter than 6 feet. The act repealed existing statutes that regulated the trimming of mangroves and replaced them with several new statutes that reduce the amount of permitting and paperwork required for that activity. As of the date of this paper, the local governments that have assumed mangrove permitting authority are: Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Town of Jupiter Island, City of Sanibel, and Sarasota County. The Mangrove Act’s regulations establish some important distinctions. Homeowners benefit from the protection the mangroves provide from storms, the trees’ ability to clean the water, and the beautiful wildlife they attract. The beauty of that waterfront, coupled with a temperate climate and abundant wildlife, has lured tourists and new residents alike, contributing to the State’s population growth and popularity as a tourist destination. While the general permit requires the homeowner (or homeowner’s agent) to file a notice with DEP, this notice is relatively straightforward, and DEP must take action on the notice within 30 days or it is deemed approved. Mangroves--the red, white and black species--grow at the water’s edge in tropical Florida, where their roots, leaves and branches nurture osprey, eagles and endangered wading birds. The story of the mangrove debacle stands as a cautionary tale for a nation and a Republican-led Congress that is pushing to roll back a raft of environmental protections--bills that would limit the roles of the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department to police unique habitats, endangered species and water quality. The mangroves must be located on the owner’s property, or within their adjacent riparian area. The Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act preserves the health of mangroves by preventing careless and inexperienced trimming, which can cause harm to them. Under the law, these limits include: Certain other activities qualify for exemptions under the Mangrove Act, including maintaining “previous mangrove configurations” and “historically established maintenance trimming.” Proof of the prior status may be necessary to secure the exemption. The root system also benefits upland property owners by buffering and absorbing wave and tidal energy, which can help stabilize the shoreline and protect the upland property from eroding in large storm events. The third type of native mangrove, the white mangrove, lives further upland than the red or black mangroves and more closely resembles a typical upland tree, although it may also appear in a dense shrub-like community. Mangroves are protected by the State of Florida's "Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act" and the State of Florida enforces the statutes protecting Mangroves. The MTAC was given the task of writing the 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act (1996 MTPA) which presently governs mangrove trimming. There may also be restoration and replacement plantings required, in addition to the fines. Latvala, who said the controversy over his bill took him “by surprise,” promised to rewrite the legislation and try to make everyone happy. In order to qualify as an exemption from the permitting requirements, the desired mangrove trimming must meet certain strict criteria. Public health officials in some counties are warning that unless the coronavirus surge can be stopped, hospitals could run out of beds in weeks. Mangroves are protected by the State's "Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act" and the enforcement of this statute has been delegated to Pinellas County. The commissioners voted unanimously to have their staff gain the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's approval to enforce the state's Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. Since each perform a special job in the ecosystem, the alteration and trimming of mangroves is governed by Sections 403.9321-403.9333, Florida Statutes, of the Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. A few months ago, the Republican-led state Legislature passed, and Democratic Gov. That is why the State of Florida enacted The Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. Yutzy strongly suggests that customers allow our company of experts to take care of mangroves to abide by those detailed laws. Freed from state environmental regulators, and given the choice between the mangrove and a nice view of Sarasota or Tampa Bay, many homeowners and developers fired up their chain saws. As discussed above, the Mangrove Act both protects the State’s mangrove habitats and recognizes property owners’ riparian rights – including the right to access the water and the right to a view towards the channel. The roots of the red mangrove filter the salt out of ocean and brackish water, providing fresh water to the tree. Florida’s popularity also generates concerns for the health of the environment. The problem, they say, is that not all mangroves are alike. Whether the activity will adversely affect the fishing or recreational values or marine productivity in the vicinity of the activity. The second important regulatory distinction differentiates between most mangrove trimming and trimming in what is described as the “Riparian Mangrove Fringe.” Trimming within a Riparian Mangrove Fringe is exempt from certain requirements. First, the law distinguishes trimming activity undertaken by a homeowner from trimming performed by a “Professional Mangrove Trimmer.” As the scale of the intended trimming increases, the regulations mandate that a qualified Professional Mangrove Trimmer complete the work. Recognized as Florida’s treasures, Mangroves should be pruned and trimmed skillfully in compliance with the Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act to ensure their preservation and growth. Mangroves cannot be greater than 24 feet in height before trimming. It would be hard to overstate the value of the coastal environment. Rules for Trimming of Mangroves in Pinellas County. This Act regulates the trimming and alteration of mangroves while also banning the use of herbicides and other chemicals used to defoliate mangroves. The black mangrove is also salt tolerant, and a system of roots protrude up from the ground like a carpet of pencils, providing air to the root system and protecting it during flooding. Bad for waterfront views and property values. This consists of the determination of the causes of mangrove loss … The property shoreline length must be less than 150 feet. About DEP. A few months ago, the Republican-led state Legislature passed, and Democratic Gov. The mangroves must qualify as a “mangrove fringe,” i.e. In 1995, the Florida Legislature sought to balance environmental protection and homeowners rights when it passed the “Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act,” (hereinafter, the “Mangrove Act”). The black mangrove’s leaves are able to excrete excess salt absorbed into the tree, resulting in visible salt crystals forming on their underside. Yes, You Can Have Mangroves and Still Have a View. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been working under the current Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act since 1996. Simply contacting Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A. General Mangrove Trimming & Alteration Regulations. The Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act, enacted in 1996, sets regulations on how these trees can be maintained. Mangrove Trimming . For trees greater than 16 feet in height, only 25% of their foliage can be removed annually. The riparian right to a view is often impacted by mangroves, and homeowners often desire to trim or remove mangroves to expand their view of a waterway. The Act does allow homeowners to trim mangroves that have been legally trimmed previously. That is why the State of Florida enacted The Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. Mangrove Trimming and Protection Act Highlights An inspection by the City’s Natural Resources staff is ALWAYS required prior to trimming mangroves. The 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act (MTPA) is overseen by the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation. The full damage, still contested, is not yet known. [ii] In recognition of the important role mangroves play in Florida’s ecology, the Mangrove Act sets out to provide important protections for the trees and limits the ability to trim  or remove them. Devnani said he considers himself a nature lover--but he wanted his view back. [vi] Under the Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act, local governments can seek to be delegated permitting authority for mangrove trimming within their jurisdiction. Before taking any action concerning the trimming or removal of mangroves, homeowners should be familiar with the legal requirements and implications of their actions. Mangroves are protected by the State of Florida's "Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act" and the State of Florida enforces the statutes protecting these important species. 95-299. For if nature can be ruthless and efficient, so can humans. This proof may consist of a statement by a person with knowledge of the history of the mangroves, past permits, or photographs of the mangroves. The third and final permitting scheme is that of the “individual permit.” These permits are required when the impacts to the mangroves exceed what is allowed under an exemption or the general permit rules. 403.9322 Legislative findings.--(1) The Legislature finds that there are over 555,000 acres of mangroves now existing in Florida. [ii] The “Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act” encompasses Sections 403.9321 through 403.9333, Florida Statutes, (2019). “Obviously, the law needs to be amended,” he said. Florida’s legislature and government agencies strive to balance protection for the environment, meeting the needs of its citizens, and maintaining a strong economy. 403.9322 Legislative findings. In 1995, the Florida Legislature sought to balance environmental protection and homeowners rights when it passed the “Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act,” (hereinafter, the “Mangrove Act”). 95-299. DEP may also require the purchase of “mitigation credits.” Those credits can be purchased from  a “mitigation bank,” which is a property that is placed into permanent conservation in exchange for the right to put mitigation credits up for sale. It essentially ended the permit requirements and allowed much more liberal manicuring. What’s open and closed amid L.A.’s stricter COVID rules. Overview of the Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. The black mangrove lives just upland from the red mangrove, near the high tide line. They also support a vast commercial and recreational fishery, providing shelter and food for snook, trout, snappers and tarpon. Due to their ecological importance, mangroves have long enjoyed protection through State of Florida regulations concerning removal and trimming. Op-Ed: On the COVID frontlines, we’re tired of hearing lame excuses for risky behavior. Forget dying reefs, evaporating wetlands, endangered manatees and roseate spoonbills. [i] Shoreline Mileage of the United States, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, https://coast.noaa.gov/data/docs/states/shorelines.pdf; accessed on June 21, 2019. Lawton Chiles signed, Latvala’s controversial Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act of 1995. In fact, if a professional “mangrove trimmer” is employed, a property owner can whack 30-foot trees thigh high, as long as they are still--technically--alive. This state ownership extends up to the high-tide water line. The act repealed existing statutes that regulated the trimming of mangroves and replaced them with several new statutes that reduce the amount of permitting and paperwork required for that activity. What you do — how we ALL act in the next six weeks — will make the difference between an inconvenient fall and a disaster that will take years to overcome. Latvala hoped his new law would simplify the process. As long as a few leaves remained, no problem. Latvala himself confessed to being somewhat shocked by the aggressive cutting. And many times, they hear from fishermen or others ratting on their neighbors for hacking down the trees. Some grow in clumps along an otherwise lifeless canal and do not support much biological growth, and these can be whacked. After the Latvala law was passed, state environmental regulators threw up their hands, concluding that technically alive meant just that. Homeowners may also trim mangroves when their height exceeds 6 feet but is not taller than 10 feet. The information provided at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Some people, unfortunately, went overboard, he said. Due to the rapidly increasing development along the coast of Florida, it is critical that mangrove habitats are protected from further destruction. All contents copyright © 2002 - 2020 Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A. In an effort to simplify the process, the Legislature passed legislation in 1995, amended in 1996, titled the Mangrove Protection Rule, Section 403.9321 through 403.9333 Florida Statutes. Mangroves are protected by the State's "Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act" and the enforcement of this statute has been delegated to Pinellas County. Those criteria include: DEP may require mitigation as a condition of approval for an individual permit. Forget the imperiled Everglades. Florida hosts three native mangrove species: red mangrove, black mangrove, and white mangrove. Legislative, Lobbying and Governmental Affairs, Administrative, Civil and Appellate Litigation, https://coast.noaa.gov/data/docs/states/shorelines.pdf, https://www.llw-law.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/General-Overview-of-Riparian-Rights-in-Florida.pdf. less than 50 feet in depth. This also results in coastlines that swiftly change location and appearance, as new trees spread and grow along the shore. Since … • Restore natural vegetative structure and hydrology of altered mangrove forests within the known range of the mangrove rivulus to increase the availability of suitable habitat for the species. s. 1, ch. Welcome to our comprehensive gift guide for the 2020 holiday season. If a homeowner fails to maintain the mangroves consistent with the initial general permit requirements, the homeowner must apply for an individual permit to carry out additional trimming. II. Since Florida has lost 86% of its mangroves since the 1940s, legislation has taken action to make sure the endangered tree population is protected. As a Professional Mangrove Trimmer registered in Hillsborough County, I state that the work proposed in this application will be performed in compliance with Chapte 1-14, Rules of the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, Mangrove Trimming and Preservation, and in accordance with the conditions set forth in the permit. For the last decade, trimming mangrove trees along canals and bays was often a cumbersome and expensive affair, involving brain-teasing paperwork, complex rules and a $500 permit. “It is, perhaps, the single most contentious environmental issue in the state,” said Nevin Smith, the Department of Environmental Protection’s director of executive services. Mitigation may include planting additional mangroves on the property or at a remote location. 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