Do I Need a Permit?

The first step in your living shoreline journey is to develop a general idea of what would work for your property by researching and visiting other examples, and talking to your local restoration practitioners [link to contacts page].

The next immediate step is to contact your regional permitting offices. Permit options vary in costs and complexity based on the scope of work and the site, and regional Florida Department of Environmental Protection staff can help identify which permits will be required based on your needs.

Most LSL projects in Florida are constructed on sovereign submerged land, which is found waterward of the mean high water line (MHWL). Sovereign submerged land is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or occasionally local government agencies, so the managing agency must authorize changes to their property, which would include the installation of a LSL. In short, if anything is going into the water as part of your LSL plan, including plants, oyster shell, rocks, or other material, you must obtain authorization from DEP and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Each LSL project, no matter how small or large, receives careful review from both state and federal regulatory authorities. DEP will forward applications to USACE once submitted, so only one application is necessary. Most living shorelines projects on private properties are small, and can be authorized under the exemption found in Ch. 62-330.051(12)(e), provided the project meets the restrictive parameters outlined. Find out which permit is right for you.

A natural shoreline

A natural shoreline can provide wildlife habitat, a beautiful landscape, and privacy for homeowners.

DEP 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 DEP rules, you must plant natives, remove invasive and exotic plants, use a turbidity curtain, and not use fill.  If you need a breakwater: 1) use “stable, non-degradable material” (oyster shell is preferable); 2) include gaps in it for tidal exchange and wildlife access (gaps should be at least 5 feet wide for every 20 feet of reef); 3) keep project materials within 10 feet water-ward of the MHWL; 4) let any submerged or emergent aquatic vegetation remain uncovered and undisturbed; and 5) plan for a breakwater that is not 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.

Information about different types of permits.

Examples of Living Shorelines and sample drawings.