Public input sought on proposed manatee protection zones in Flagler Co.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291
(Back to Commission meeting
A proposal for manatee protection zones on portions of the
Intracoastal Waterway in Flagler County is ready for public input,
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
Under the proposed FWC rule, there would be 2.7 miles of new
slow-speed zones on the 18.6 miles of Intracoastal Waterway channel
within the county. This would be for only four months of the year.
Manatee protection zones are proposed for three areas: near Hammock
Bridge in Palm Coast; near Flagler Beach from the Highway 100
bridge north to the Lehigh Canal area; and in the vicinity of
Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area. The public can view
the proposed rule at MyFWC.com/Manatee (click on
"Flagler County is a good example of all stakeholders and all
parties coming on board trying to get a good outcome with good
protections for manatees," said Commission Vice Chairman Kenneth
At least one public hearing on the manatee rule will be held in
Flagler County, and notice of the proposed rule will be
All proposed manatee protection zones would be in effect only
from May 1 through Labor Day, reflecting the times when manatees
are most likely to frequent the area and the risks to manatees
increase due to higher levels of boat traffic.
"It is the goal of the manatee program to identify areas where
manatees are at significant risk and determine if steps can be
taken to reduce that risk," said Kipp Frohlich, leader of the FWC's
Imperiled Species section. "It also was important to collaborate
with many stakeholders on the proposed Flagler manatee protection
zones to make sure we took into account the impacts on boating and
the local economy."
FWC biologists worked closely with Flagler County staff, local
municipalities, local businesses, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, Enterprise Florida and the Governor's Office of Tourism,
Trade and Economic Development to discuss protection needs and to
help identify and evaluate potential impacts that protection zones
could have on local businesses. Several changes were made to reduce
The proposed rule was brought to the June 2011 Commission
meeting, where commissioners asked FWC staff to continue working
with Flagler County staff to reach greater consensus. Since June,
FWC staff has met with the county several times, and the proposed
rule was modified to reduce the extent of the protection zones.
"During summertime, when the proposed manatee protection zones
would be in effect, the time needed for a boater to travel the
entire length of the Intracoastal Waterway in Flagler County would
increase by about 15 minutes," Frohlich said.
After public feedback, the Commission plans to take up the rule
again at a meeting in 2012.