Environmental Planning focuses on three areas of responsibility that protect the county’s natural resources – environmental planning, policy, and projects.
This includes comprehensive plan and land use matters, policy development and ordinance amendments, major coastal initiatives such as beach nourishment and restoration projects, and wildlife conservation planning such as the Manatee Protection Plan and Sea Turtle Protection, along with other wide-ranging environmental initiatives.
Artificial Reef Program
The artificial reef program exists to increase and enhance recreational fishing and scuba diving areas and to create and restore marine habitat lost to coastal development.
Through innovative construction materials and techniques, the reefs support marine life and decrease user pressure on natural reefs.
Eagle nests and development in Sarasota County
- If an eagle’s nest is located on or near a property that is slated for development, the county will require proof of coordination from the appropriate wildlife agency prior to issuing a Sarasota County building permit.
- Please see the "Quick Reference Guide" for wildlife agency information.
There are more than 40 reported active eagles’ nests in Sarasota County.
Boat Speed Zones
Boating speed zones in Sarasota County are reviewed and approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Speed zones are designated for boating safety and/or manatee protection. The FWC approved the new rules for manatee protection zones for the county.
The Boat Speed Zone brochure provides maps of Sarasota County speed zones as well as information about boating safety and fishing licenses.
In order to obtain a better understanding of the extent of the problem, Sarasota County is currently seeking assistance from residents in reporting new exotic reptile sightings.
- If you see an exotic reptile, call the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000 to report it.
- If the animal is on your private property and is contained, Animal Services will come and pick it up.
- If the animal is on your private property and not contained, the use of a licensed wildlife trapper is recommended.
For more information on exotic reptiles, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 850-488-4676 or visit www.myfwc.com.
Gopher tortoises can be found throughout much of Florida including Sarasota County.
It is illegal to alter or destroy gopher tortoise burrows, keep tortoises as pets, or to harm, kill or relocate tortoises or their eggs without a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).
Gopher tortoises are legally protected as a Threatened Species under the wildlife code of the State of Florida (Chapter 68A 27.005, Florida Administrative Code).
Manatee Protection Plan
Sarasota County is one of 13 counties designated as a priority protection site for the state and federally endangered West Indian Manatee. Counties with this designation are required by Florida Statute to develop a Manatee Protection Plan (MPP).
What is the Manatee Protection Plan?
The MPP is a planning document designed to reduce detrimental human-related impacts to manatees in the development of boat facilities, such as marinas and boat ramps. The MPP does not apply to single-family docks and manatee protection speed zones are established in a separate process.
Fishing Line Recovery and Recycling
The Fishing Line/Monofilament Line Recovery and Recycling Program (MRRP) is a statewide effort to educate the public on the problems caused by fishing line/monofilament line left in the environment, to encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and to conduct volunteer monofilament line cleanup events.
The regulatory requirements for protection of Scrub-jays and their habitat are under the Endangered Species Act, which is enforced by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
- USFWS has oversight for the Endangered Species Act, and staff at the Vero Beach office can be reached at (772) 562-3909.
The county may not relieve an applicant of the requirements of federal nor state regulations.
- For properties that contain scrub habitats or are occupied by Florida Scrub-jays, consultation is required with USFWS prior to initiating a project.
Native Habitat Lands
Native habitats, also sometimes called ecosystems, are naturally occurring plant and animal communities found throughout the world. There are a number of native habitats that are located specifically within Sarasota County.
Native habitats such as hammocks and other forests are the location of numerous tree species that provide numerous benefits, including carbon sequestration and cooling.
Sarasota County has been fortunate not to have suffered the devastation of a major disaster in recent history, but there have been some close calls.
There is no reason why a hurricane or other disaster could not directly hit Sarasota County. Even without a direct hit from a major hurricane, beach erosion, which will be exacerbated by sea level rise, is a major vulnerability for the county that threatens established neighborhoods and tourism.
For these reasons and others, on July 7, 2015, the County Commission approved the Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plan with adoption of Resolution No. 2015-118.
Funds are available now through the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy (RESTORE) Act to spend on programs, projects and activities that restore and protect the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast region.
Sarasota County is proposing to use RESTORE Act Direct Component funds on a pilot project to improve Ted Sperling Park, located at 2201 Ben Franklin Drive and 190 Taft Drive in Sarasota. These improvements include construction of a portion of the city of Sarasota’s multi-use recreational trail and replacement of an existing boardwalk.
To learn more, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000
Sarasota County Sea Turtle Protection Program
Sea Turtle Nesting Season May 1 – Oct. 31
The beaches of Sarasota County serve as an important nesting habitat for both the threatened loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and the endangered green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtle.
- Our beaches have supported nesting of both the Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempi) and the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), two of the most endangered species of sea turtles.
- Sarasota County has the highest density of sea turtle nesting on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
All species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered and are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, as well as the Marine Turtle Protection Act Chapter 370.12 (Florida Administrative Code).
The snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) is a small beach-nesting shorebird found in temperate and subtropical zones worldwide. On average, adult snowy plovers have a wingspan of about 13.4 in and weigh about 1.2 - 2 oz.
Breeding and Nesting
- Each nesting season, a pair will lay between two and six pale buff eggs with black or gray marks in a nest on the open beach, which the male has made.
- It’s a shallow ground depression lined with shell fragments or grass.
- Both male and female incubate eggs for 24 to 32 days.
- Young fly at 26 to 31 days.
- The pair will raise one or two broods per year.
- If first nesting attempts are unsuccessful, they may lay a third.
West Coast Inland Navigation District Grants
The West Coast Inland Navigation District, or WCIND, is a multi-county special taxing authority encompassing Charlotte, Lee, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Established by the Florida Legislature in 1947 to complement the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the construction and maintenance of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, or ICW. The District’s mission is to preserve and enhance the commercial, recreational, and ecological values of local waterways.
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