Given that most LSL projects in Florida are constructed on sovereign submerged land, which is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) ( FDEP Permitting website: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/info/permitting.htm) often near seagrass in sensitive estuarine habitats or in protected species habitat, the regulatory process can be time-consuming, and more challenging than getting a permit to build a seawall. Each LSL project, no matter how small or large, receives careful scrutiny from both state and federal regulatory authorities. There are a lot of rules at all levels – state, federal, and local. Complying with them is a big part of making an effective LSL happen. Nearly all submerged land in estuaries water-ward of the Mean High Water Line (MHWL) in Florida is sovereign land owned by the State of Florida, regulated by FDEP under the Environmental Regulatory Permit program ( FDEP Permitting SLERC website http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wetlands/index.htm). Because the state owns the land, they have to authorize use of fill material, which, in Florida, includes plants as well as oyster shell or limestone rock. Most projects that involve planting marsh grass below the MHWL will be on sovereign submerged land, and all will require permits.
FDEP makes a distinction between shoreline protection and pure restoration. There are 3 basic state permit categories based on the characteristics of the LSL project:
1) DEP Exempt Permit
Florida’s Environmental Resource Permitting rules regulate construction of basic, small (less than 500 linear feet) LSL projects, such as those in front of most private property shorelines. In brief, to get a permit exemption for a small LSL under current FDEP rules, you must plant natives, remove invasive and exotic plants, use a turbidity curtain, and not use fill. And, if you need a breakwater: 1) use “stable, non-degradable material” (oyster shell is preferable); 2) include gaps in it for tidal exchange (gaps should be at least 5 feet wide for every 20 feet of reef); 3) don’t put it out farther than 10 feet water-ward of the MHWL; 4) don’t put it on or near any submerged or emergent aquatic vegetation; and 5) don’t build the breakwater higher than MHWL. Permit cost is about $100 for DEP to verify exemption.
2) General Permit or restoration/enhancement permit
Used for larger-scale oyster reef restoration. Permit cost is about $250.
3) Army Corps of Engineers federal dredge-fill or Wetland impact permit
Used for less than 1 acre of wetland impact. Permit cost is about$700.
Below are permitting documents and program links for various LSL programs both in Florida and other states.
DEP shoreline stabilization
FL ERP 62-330
FL General Permit oyster 62-330.632
Florida DEP joint application tips
Florida DEP joint application
Florida wetland regulatory summary
King County shoreline regulations
Nationwide Permit 2007