State of the Beach/State Reports/FL

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Florida

Summary

Despite the popularity of surfing in Florida, there is relatively little readily available information on surfing areas and little recognition by the state of surfing as an important activity. The amount of water quality information available to the public is generally good (although federal and state budget cuts have decreased the number of beaches that are tested) and the state's website provides a wide variety of information on other beach health indicators. The state should develop a long-term plan to increase and maintain the number of coastal access locations to improve upon the existing average of one access site per 5 miles of shoreline. Some locations need parking nearby to be able to utilize existing access. Like many other coastal states, Florida is struggling with how to maintain sandy beaches in areas with high density development along an eroding, hurricane-prone coastline.

Florida Ratings


Indicators

(+) The Florida Marine Debris Reduction Guidance Plan is a compilation of recommended strategies and actions toward reducing the impacts and amount of marine debris in Florida. It is the result of multiple years of collaboration between stakeholders including federal and state agencies, local governments, non-governmental organizations, universities, and industry. Moving into the future, the Plan will act as a guide to measure progress toward addressing the marine debris problem in Florida.

(+) Ahead of the Tide is an independent movement that launched a 10-part video series in February 2016 highlighting the effects of sea level rise and climate change through the stories and voices of local Floridians. Each short video (5 to 7 minutes) showcases various aspects concerning sea level rise and includes interviews with scientists, engineers, politicians, conservation directors, educators, authors and activists.

(+) Several years ago, the leaders of Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties formed the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact to share strategies, make joint plans and speak with a more unified voice to the state legislature. All four counties, which are as different politically as Miami Beach and Palm Beach are culturally, have approved the group’s plan, titled the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan. Among the plan’s 110 resolutions are efforts to improve local flood maps and identify “adaptation action areas” — spots most vulnerable to sea-level rise — so as to tailor building codes and other ordinances accordingly.

(+) Good news for sea turtles finally emerged in 2012 when leatherbacks, loggerheads and greens emerged from the Atlantic to deposit their eggs on Florida shores, often in record numbers. Overall, the 2012 nesting season was the second-highest statewide since scientists began counting nests in 1989. Surveys on 250 miles of selected Florida beaches — called index beaches — found more than 58,000 loggerhead nests, for example, just below the high of 59,918 in 1998.

(+) The first phase of Florida's online Beach Access Guide was launched in February 2012. This phase includes data for the Panhandle region, encompassing 13 Gulf Coast counties spanning from Escambia to Citrus. The Online Beach Access Guide now includes public beach access points in coastal counties throughout the state. The guide also provides directions, a list of amenities at each access point and a list of state parks, paddling trails, points of interest and a county overview. Information about Florida’s Atlantic Coast and Southwest Florida was added to the website in May 2012.

(+) The Florida Coastal Management Program (FCMP) has completed the Florida Assessment of Coastal Trends (FACT) 2010 report with the help of its coastal partners. An important part of planning for the future of these resources is maintaining a clear perspective on how they are changing. FACT 2010 tracks the most recent changes in 65 indicators in order to help illustrate how resources have responded to policies and activities implemented by coastal resource managers. One of the primary goals of the FACT is to provide decision makers across the state with another tool to help them effectively plan for the future of Florida's coastal zone.

(+) In October 2009 the Governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia announced an agreement to work together to better manage and protect ocean and coastal resources, ensure regional economic sustainability and respond to disasters such as hurricanes. The South Atlantic Alliance will leverage resources from each state to protect and maintain healthy coastal ecosystems, keep waterfronts working, enhance clean ocean and coastal waters and help make communities more resilient after they’ve been struck by natural disasters.

(+) The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is a partnership of the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, with the goal of significantly increasing regional collaboration to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. The five U.S. Gulf States have identified six priority issues that are regionally significant and can be effectively addressed through increased collaboration at local, state, and federal levels: Water Quality, Habitat Conservation and Restoration, Ecosystem Integration and Assessment, Nutrients & Nutrient Impacts, Coastal Community Resilience, and Environmental Education.

(+) Governor Charlie Crist signed bill CS/CS/HB 1423 to create the Florida Coral Reef Protection Act, which clearly defines the authority for the protection of corals and penalties for boat anchoring and grounding damage to the reefs of Palm Beach, Martin, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.

(+) In October 2008, Sarasota County Commissioners approved a virtual ban on building sea walls and generally made it tougher to build or reconstruct along the Gulf of Mexico.

(+) In June 2007, Governor Crist approved an expanded definition of beach access.

(+) The Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition, which includes Surfrider Foundation, authored a report Florida’s Coastal and Ocean Future, A Blueprint for Economic and Environmental Leadership in September 2006 that has now been endorsed by 160 Coastal and Ocean Businesses, Civic, Outdoor, and Conservation Organizations. The Coalition followed this with the release of Preparing for a Sea Change - A Strategy to Cope with the Impacts of Global Warming on the State’s Coastal and Marine Systems, which calls upon state leaders to take the necessary steps to address the expected impacts of global warming on the state’s unique coastal and marine resources. Florida’s Coastal and Ocean Future: An Updated Blueprint for Economic and Environmental Leadership was released in January 2012. Read the press release.

(+) An Ocean Outfall Study report was prepared in 2006 that identifies the six existing ocean sewage outfalls in Florida and evaluates options for elimination of these outfalls. Legislation to eliminate regular use of these outfalls by 2025 has been enacted. The Delray Beach outfall was closed in early April 2009. Update on this.

(+) The Florida Legislature has approved a bill to require that buyers of coastal property be given "meaningful disclosure" about the dangers of living in the potential path of killer hurricanes.

(+) Florida’s Beach and Shore Preservation Act defines a statewide setback of 50 feet from the line of mean high water.

(+) Commissioners in Sarasota County have included a handful of tough, waterfront measures described as cutting-edge protections for public access to Florida beaches in the county's comprehensive plan. Included in the document is a prohibition in certain areas against converting public waterfront businesses, such as marinas, to "non water-dependent uses." Other measures make public beach access a required part of any coastal development project and establish an official policy to use county funds to buy beach and waterfront property.

(+) People all over Florida voted to tax themselves to protect the environment in the 2004 elections. They approved bond measures in eight counties that will cost a total of $330 million to buy and preserve open space.

(+) Beach tourism contributes about $15 billion a year to Florida's economy.

(0) Over the last 50 years, about $1 billion has been spent on fill projects covering over 100 miles of beach. This works out to $10 million per mile.

(0) A series of hurricanes in 2004 caused hundreds of millions of dollars damage to Florida's beaches and beachfront property, intensifying arguments over building setbacks and the costs/benefits of beach fill projects.

(0) Over 60% of Florida's population lived within five miles of the coast in 1995.

(-) "The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently issued an emergency order that will expedite the process for seawall eligibility and waive associated fees, enabling certain coastal residents of St. Johns County to protect their property from future hurricanes." - September 28, 2017 Excerpt from Ponte Vedra Recorder. Promoting seawalls will actually exacerbate rates of erosion.

(-) Florida’s outdated and ineffective 25-year old coastal development laws are forcing beaches to be squeezed between rising seas and high risk development. In fact, the state allows new construction to match the existing line of construction, regardless of whether it is seaward of development setbacks, and allows any new single family home to be built seaward of the Coastal Construction Control Line. Worse still, the state often grants new high risk developments permits for seawalls to protect their “vulnerable” property.

(-) Florida's efforts to plan for and adapt to the effects of climate change took a giant step backwards under the administration of Governor Rick Scott. Reportedly, Governor Scott put out an unwritten rule ordering that no one at the Department of Environmental Protection even use the phrases global warming or climate change in any of their communications. More on this.

(-) When major rains overwhelmed Lake Okeechobee during summer 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers released billions of gallons of polluted water into surrounding estuaries rather than risk a breach of the fragile dike. The deluge of water carried contaminates from area farms and septic tanks, and skewed the salinity at waterways like the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, reports the New York Times. The disruption caused a burst of dangerous algae to grow causing a perfect storm of environmental dangers. Indian River Lagoon specifically was called a "killing zone" and a "mass murder mystery" after the sudden death of 46 dolphins, 111 manatees, 300 pelicans, and 47,000 acres of sea grass beds. Read more.

(-) A bill passed by the state legislature in December 2012 that would have mandated septic evaluations for 19 counties and three cities in the state outlined an option somewhat odd for legislation seeking a policy change: the option not to comply.

"House Bill 1263 changes the law related to when to have your septic system evaluated," according to a Florida Department of Health release. "The law gives local governments the choice on whether or not to adopt an evaluation program for their area."

And as of January 2013, all 19 counties and three cities that were required to take action on septic tank inspections under the bill, passed by the 2012 Legislature, voted to opt out of that requirement, according to the DOH.

(-) In July 2011 Florida's Department of Health announced that they would be making significant changes to their beach monitoring program due to the loss of about $500,000 in state funding due to budget cuts. The Department of Health will submit a new monitoring plan to the federal Environmental Protection Agency that will include no monitoring in the northern half of the state from Nov. 1 through Feb. 28. In the rest of the year, workers will test water at the beaches only twice a month, instead of weekly. Officials also have proposed cutting back on the number of sites being tested. Gulf Islands National Seashore in Okaloosa County would no longer be tested by state officials because it is federal land. In Bay County, officials would no longer test the west county line and the east county line. Seawater testing in Flagler County would be scrapped in the wintertime along with two of 15 Volusia County testing sites year-round, according to preliminary plans. Plans are for testing at the North Jetty and South Jetty in Ponce Inlet to be stopped.

(-) In June 2010 a 72-inch sewer line in Miami at Northwest 18th Avenue and 157th Street ruptured, spewing sewage for more than 12 hours. About 20 million gallons of sewage flowed into the Biscayne Canal before crews were able to shut off the valve and reroute the flow. There were several complaints that there was inadequate public notification of the spill and the need to stay out of Bay areas from Oleta River State Park to Bal Harbour and Haulover Park.

(-) In March 2006, Seventh Circuit Court Judge Michael Traynor ruled that private landowners cannot place obstructions such as plants or walls within the access points and that the county had six months to remove the obstructions. Four years later (February 2010), five of the 14 beach access paths leading from Ponte Vedra Boulevard to the ocean were still impassible or unidentifiable to the public. See beach access map.

(-) In January 2009 an article in the Miami Herald reported that the Florida Senate was considering halting the Florida Forever program to stave off more pressing budget cuts. The proposal would stop the state from issuing the remaining $250 million of $300 million worth of bonds that are issued each year to buy conservation land across the state. Although the move would save about $20 million in debt and interest payments each year, it would suspend a program to protect wild areas from development that has long been considered a national model.

(-) A Senate committee killed a bill that would have prevented day-cruise gambling ships from dumping sewage in the waters off Florida's coasts.

(-) Palm Beach County Commissioners are promoting a plan to build 11 granite and limestone breakwaters off Singer Island. The project has been estimated to cost $30 million. As with all such projects, there is concern that the breakwaters would trap sand and contribute to erosion elsewhere. Also, the breakwaters may have an impact on sea turtle hatchlings or other aspects of the marine ecosystem and effectively end surfing along the sections of coast where the breakwaters would be located.

(-) In 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pumped $156 million of sand onto Florida beaches to replace what was washed away by rising sea levels and more intense storms, 20 percent more than the accumulated spending of the seven previous years combined. In nearly the same period, the federal EPA spent less than $300,000 to map how sea-level rise will affect coastal communities in Florida.

(-) If a beach monitoring sample exceeds the standard, an advisory or warning is not issued until a follow-up sample also exceeds the standard. In some cases, the follow-up sample is taken the same day, but in other cases it may take up to a week before the results of the follow-up sample are known. In the interim, no advisory or warning is issued.

(-) There is only about one public access site for about every 5 miles of shoreline. This corresponds to roughly one access for every 10,000 residents. This doesn't include tourists!

(-) 67% of the beaches in Florida are privately owned.

(-) There is increasing evidence that the practice of wastewater disposal by deep well injection may be affecting inland and coastal surface waters. Additional water quality concerns are discharges from cruise ships, harmful algal blooms, and antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

(-) The hurricanes of 2004 did unprecedented damage to much of Florida's 800 miles of sandy beaches. They reshaped long stretches on both coasts, worsened already serious erosion, erased tens of millions of dollars worth of recent beach rebuilding and destroyed or seriously damaged some 2,000 seaside buildings.

(-) Volusia County received a new federal permit in November 2005 that allows beach driving to continue for 25 years, despite the potential harm to turtles and piping plovers.

(-) Over the last two decades, public access to Florida's 1,200 miles of coastline has diminished drastically.

(-) As much as 80% of the erosion on Florida's East Coast is attributable to the navigation improvements and historical sediment management practices at inlets, which have disrupted the natural flow of sand, virtually starving downdrift beaches.

(-) Nearly 56 million gallons of sewage spilled into Florida's waterways in 2004.

(-) Despite a presidential policy of "no net loss," Florida has lost at least 84,000 acres of wetlands in the past 15 years.

Victories

  • Support New Public Access to Miami Beach New development in Miami Beach is a constant, but when the developers of the Marlborough House annouced plans to demolish an old building and replace it with a 17-story condo, they did not include beach access for the local community. At a public hearing, the local review board requested that a beach access pathway be added to the development plans. The developers attorney, Michael Larkin, suggested that if that's was the city wants, they would be required to pay $4.2 million for this public right of way. Thus began the Miami Chapter's campaign to ensure public access for the local community, without costing local taxpayers millions of dollars. Click here to learn more.
  • Coral Gables Bag Ban In May 2017, Coral Gables became the first city in Florida to ban single-use plastic bags! Currently, state law prohibits local governments from implementing local ordinances that ban, tax, or limit single-use plastic bags. This state law has been in place for almost a decade, and there are still no regulations or guidance from the state legislature! Florida municipalities are struggling to deal with litter, clogged storm drains, damaged recycling equipment, and the environmental and economic impacts of single-use plastic bags. In light of the inaction at our state capitol, the City of Coral Gables decided to take action! The City of Coral Gables passed an ordinance on first reading on March 14, 2017 and unanimously approved the ordianance on second reading on May 9, 2017. The City collaborated with local businesses, community members, and the Surfrider Foundation's Miami Chapter, to make sure that the ordinance serves the entire City of Coral Gables. Congratulations on Florida's first single-use plastic bag ban!
  • Save the Indian River Lagoon Save the Indian River Lagoon! The Indian River Lagoon is suffering from harmful algal blooms, toxic muck, and leaky septic systems. This November, voters in Brevard County will have the opportunity to approve a $302.8 million, 10-year cleanup plan for the Indian River Lagoon. The plan is funded by a half-cent on the dollar sales tax designated exclusively for the lagoon. The lagoon cleanup plan allocates funds for muck removal, septic system removal and upgrades , fertilzer mangement, public education, and living shorelines. Victory! Voters overwhelmingly passed the sales tax to help clean up the Indian River Lagoon. On November 8th, 62% of voters said YES to restoring the Indian River Lagoon. The tax will raise $302 million over 10 years to implement a comprehensive Lagoon cleanup plan. The plan allocates funds for muck removal, septic system removal and upgrades , fertilizer management, public education, and living shorelines. More
  • Stop Sham Solar Initiative Stop the industry-backed sham solar initiative designed to allow utility companies to impose fines, fees, and limitations on solar energy. Big utility companies have spent nearly $26 million on this misleading ballot initiative- making it one of the most expensive ballot measures in Florida's history. A bipartisan coalition of business groups, environmentalists, newspapers, and lawmakers are deeply opposed to Amendment 1. Victory! On November 8th, 2016 voters rejected Amendment 1, the sham solar initiative. Florida law requires a 60% threshold to pass any ballot initiative, and Amendment 1 received only 51%. In a state where rising seas and climate change are an imminent threat, the rejection of Amendment 1 is a clear victory for clean energy in Florida.
  • Walton County Customary Use Ordinance As part of the Surfrider Foundation Emerald Coast Chapter's broader beach access campaign, the Chapter has supported the public's continued right to access Walton County's dry sand beaches for recreational uses, as it has for generations. Chapter members voiced their support at County workshops, and recent County Commission meetings, for the adoption of a Customary Use ordinance, recognizing the public's common law right to use the County's beaches. In October, the County adopted an ordinance, marking a powerful victory for public beach access in this ongoing campaign. The ordinance is slated to go into effect in April 2017, and may be revised and improved upon by a proposed "Customary Use Committee" to be formed by the County, in the coming months. As adopted, the ordinance acknowledges the public's right to use Walton County's dry sand beaches for recreation based on customary use, but provides for a 15 foot buffer where the public may not go, within 15 feet of any habitable structures or toe of the dune, whichever is more seaward. While the ordinance does not create any new rights, it is important in that it recognizes and protects the public's existing right to access the dry beaches of Walton County, which the public has established through not just decades - but hundreds of years of use - dating back to use by native Americans in 3,000 B.C. and beyond.
  • Keep Beaches Public in Puerto Rico The Rincón Chapter joined other local NGOs to fight a bad bill (Senate Bill 1621) that would in effect forgive and legalize private encroachment of development into the public beach. Surfrider Rincón joined a massive island-wide online petition drive and letter writing campaign by coalitions in the scientific, academic and environmental NGO communities to protest Senate Bill 1621. If this legislation was enacted, it would have in effect forgiven and legalized private encroachment on to the public beaches of southern PR, making it difficult if not impossible for the public to continue to use, access and protect the public beach. The Governor's Veto of this bill is a stand against privatization of the beach and a strong action in support of continued support for the public's right to continue to access, enjoy and protect our ocean, waves and beaches.
  • Make Solar Energy Affordable & Abundant! On August 30th, 2016, Florida voters overwhelmingly supported Amendment 4. The Amendment, which makes solar more affordable, passed with 73% of the vote. By making clean, renewable energy sources more abundant, we can reduce our dependecy on dirty fossil fuels and eliminiate the need for offshore drilling, seismic blasting, fracking and other practices that harm our ocean environment. Click here to read about Amendment 4 in the news!
  • Walton County’s Obstructions on the Beach Ordinance As part of the Surfrider Foundation Emerald Coast Chapter's public beach access campaign, the Chapter supports safe, low impact public beach access in Walton County. As such, Surfrider has supported proper enforcement of Walton County's Obstructions on the Beach Ordinance, which among other things, prohibits placement of ropes, chains, and signs on Walton County beaches. These items have popped up more and more frequently along Florida's Emerald Coast coastline, and constitute public nuisances. They endanger beachgoers' health and safety, by restricting access for emergency responders like lifeguards, and are items which themselves have the potential to trip or otherwise injure beachgoers. Surfrider members have on multiple occasions seen dangerous concrete bases sticking out of the sand, where presumably, signs once stood, but were washed away. Furthermore, in addition to posing physical nuisances, signs often keep beachgoers off the dry sand beach which the public has utilized in Walton County for generations, and which the public therefore has a right to continue to access. Therefore, at public meetings and workshops, Surfrider Foundation members encouraged Walton County to strengthen and clarify that these nuisance items are prohibited from Walton County beaches. This advocacy ultimately resulted in a victory, when the Walton County Board of Commissioners adopted a revised Obstructions on the Beach ordinance, in June, 2016, which clearly prohibits obstructions including fences, ropes, chains, and signs from Walton County beaches. The Chapter will continue to engage and encourage the County to fully enforce the ordinance, in furtherance of the public's right to safely access Walton County beaches.
  • Miami Beach Foam Ban The City of Miami Beach currently bans polystyrene on its beaches. The Miami Chapter is working to extend that ban to all city owned areas, including sidewalk cafes and parks. Ultimately, the Miami Chapter is working to include the Miami Beach municipality, in its entirety, in the ban. On September 2, 2015 the Miami Beach City Commission voted to approve an ordinance to restrict the use and sale of EPS foam coolers and foodware in the City limits. The ban will begin enforcement with public education, then transition to a warning system, and finally to issuing fines for violations by November 2016.
  • No New Beach Raking on Cocoa Beach! The Cocoa Beach City Commission was considering a proposal to use a mechanical rake to clean a one-mile section of the beach, from Sidney Fischer Park to the Cocoa Beach Pier. The proposal was not included in the annual budget but would have cost the city $50,000 annually. Beach raking destroys the natural wrack line, impacts wildlife habitat, and decreases dune creation and enhancement. Advocates for the beach raking have stated that if "successful", they will push to expand beach raking to other areas. Cocoa Beach and Brevard County are important not only for their recreational benefits, but also because they attract the second largest population of nesting Loggerhead sea turtles in the world! Beach raking jeopardizes the health and sustainability of our beaches! Victory! By working with the City Commission and other local partners, the proposal to add a new one-mile stretch of beach was dropped from consideration. In order to stop the proposal, the Cocoa Beach Chapter gathered public opposition of the proposal, spoke at the City Commission meeting, and negotiated with proponents of beach raking.
  • Save Public Access #14! County Beach Access #14 in Panama City has been encroached upon by the property owners on both sides, effectively cutting off public access. Additionally signs indicating public access have been torn down and have not been replaced. Locals who utilize the access point fear that the county's next step will be abandonment of the easement of this neglected and now inaccessible public access point. By working with County Commissioners, the Emerald Coast Chapterwas able to ensure that Access #14 will reopen, and that the easement will not be abandoned. The Chapter continues to work to make sure there is adequate signage and that the access is free from encroachment from neighboring homeowners.
  • Melbourne Beach Voluntary Bag Ban The Sebastian Inlet Chapter partnered with the Melbourne Beach City Council to craft and implement a voluntary bag reduction program. This is only the second official bag reduction effort in Florida, following St. Augustine's voluntary bag ban in early 2014. Currently, Florida communities are prohibited by state law from banning or taxing plastic bags. The Florida Chapters are currently working to repeal the statewide preemption on bag bans and are passing voluntary measures in the meantime. More.
  • Florida Balloon Release Bill Defeated The goal of this campaign was to stop the Florida Legislature from allowing large scale helium balloon releases. Currently, Florida law prohibits the release of more than 10 helium balloons in a 24 hour period. A proposal in the Florida Legislature would have increased that limit to 100 helium balloons at at time for balloons released as a part of a funeral, memorial service, or faith-based event. That bill was defeated.
  • Florida Coastal Insurance Reform This legislative session, the Florida Chapters joined forces with the Stronger Safer Coalition, which advocates for reform of Citizens Insurance and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (CAT Fund). Reforming Citizens helps reduce subsidies for coastal development in high risk areas, like barrier islands. The Coalition and Florida Chapters worked to successfully pass SB1770. The new law ends state subsided insurance for new construction or substantial improvements seaward of the Coastal Construction Control Line or within the Coastal Barrier Resource System. On May 29th, 2013 Governor Rick Scott signed SB 1770 into law. Governor Scott commented, “This legislation will bring much needed reforms to better protect the taxpayers who support Citizens Property Insurance…. Additionally, this law helps protect the environment by removing subsidies for new construction in environmentally sensitive coastal areas.
  • Beach Access Restrictions Removed The official closing time in the summer months (April through October) is 8pm at Huguenot Memorial Park and Hanna Park in Jacksonville. However, the parks suddenly began closing at 6pm due to “budget cuts,” and parking citations were being issued to anyone that was in the park later than this. The First Coast Chapter was told that the Jacksonville City Council had the sole authority to change the park hours, but they hadn’t. Not only does that question the legality of the change of hours, but also the citations many may have received from the JSO. It was a city-wide effort to save money in the least effective way while limiting recreation opportunities. After numerous letters and complaints, the City Council voted on April 18, 2012 to ensure that starting April 28, 2012 the parks will be back to summer hours.
  • Singer Island Groin Proposal This Singer Island erosion control project came back in a third form: evaluation of groins and T‐groins as design alternatives vs. the breakwater design. The Singer Island Erosion Control Project covers approximately 1 mile of Palm Beach County Atlantic coastline (between FDEP monuments R‐60 and R‐69). The overall project purpose is to stabilize the Atlantic shoreline of Singer Island by trapping nearshore sediment and allowing accretion of beach quality sand. Groin Report On February 7, 2012 at the County Commission Meeting it was voted to no longer pursue the project due to the cost to taxpayers and the fear that the project would not be successful. Campaign website.
  • Restored access for Surfers in Miami The Miami City Commission attempted a global ban on use of "vessels" from both guarded and unguarded beaches along most of Miami Beach. "No person shall launch or remove any vessel from the waters of the city over any public seawall, sidewalk, street end, or public property except at locations where a regular business of launching and hauling vessels is conducted, which has the necessary equipment to do such work, or in areas designated and posted for such purpose by the city." Summarized, it seems to mean no vessel may be used outside of designated use areas/corridors and the only vessels that may be used in such areas must be rented by the concessionaire. Miami Chapter website.
  • Attempt to Delay Implementation of 2008 Ocean Outfall Legislation Fails State legislation was passed in 2008 to close 6 ocean outfalls along the Florida Atlantic coastline to help preserve the reef ecosystem and begin to reuse the freshwater to help with water shortages. The original timeline was to have the outfalls be completely closed and in full reuse mode by 2025. Bill SB 796, which sought to extend that deadline, was never brought up for a vote and died as the 2010-2011 Florida legislative session came to an end.
  • Stopped Singer Island Breakwaters Since 2006, Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management (ERM) had been requesting a permit to place 11 rubble-mound breakwater segments 200 feet offshore from Singer Island. Individual breakwater segments would have measured approximately 100 feet by 350 feet and extended one foot above the water. The overall project purpose was to stabilize the Atlantic shoreline of Singer Island by trapping nearshore sediment and allowing accretion of beach quality sand. According to the information provided, 18.9 acres of submerged bottom, including 9.4 acres of hard bottom would have been covered by sand. The initial determination by the Jacksonville District was that the proposed project would have a substantial adverse impact on essential fish habitat (EFH) or federally managed fishery species. It is also likely that the project would have increased erosion on downdrift beaches and adversely impacted sea turtles . On March 22, 2011 at a "Breakwater Workshop" the County Commission voted 5-2 to no longer pursue the project due to the cost to taxpayers and the fear that the project would not be successful.
  • United States Supreme Court Upholds Beach Access in Florida The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Public Trust Doctrine and public beach access, following the main arguments from the Surfrider Foundation amicus brief in the "Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection" case. The local Emerald Coast Chapter and the surrounding community are happy to see their objectives for beach access were well-served. This Supreme Court decision has given the state the authority to act in the interest of the public trust, enabling any person to walk along the water’s edge on this taxpayer-funded sand. The Chapter remains concerned, as are the other ten Chapters across the state, with the open-ended issues arising from the beach access provisions of the beach management program, located in Chapter 161 of the Florida Revised Statutes. More info.
  • Lake Worth Surf and Reefs Protected In a landmark decision, Florida Judge Robert E. Meale recently ruled against the town of Palm Beach in denying the town a permit to dredge and fill 1.8 miles of beach surrounding the Lake Worth Pier with 700,000 cubic yards of poor-quality sediment. In early 2008, the Palm Beach County Chapter, The Snook Foundation, and three individuals challenged the town and the State of Florida’s intent to issue that permit. The City of Lake Worth and Eastern Surfing Association also intervened in opposition to the project. The petitioners proved the dredge-and-fill project would destroy the beach and coastal environment by directly burying seven acres of reefs. The silty material would have also killed marine life, including endangered sea turtles, and seriously harmed the surfing, fishing and diving. This decision was upheld in August 2009 by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection when they threw out the project's application.
  • “POWW” Waterfront Preservation The Suncoast Chapter was involved with the POWW Coalition (Preserve Our Wallets and Waterfront) to preserve both waterfront parks and habitat and taxpayer dollars from the Tampa Devils Rays' proposed development of an open-air stadium in downtown St. Petersburg. The area has now been protected as a designated city park.
  • Litter Campaign in Miami Beach The Miami Chapter has been pushing for several years to clean up the mass amounts of litter from South Miami Beach. As a result of their efforts the city is undergoing a major litter education campaign and has pledged to:
1. Train code enforcement officers to patrol the beach and issue littering citations.
2. Work with the County to increase the amount of trash pickups and to provide a trash transfer station in the South Beach area to allow for increased pickup.
3. Start a recycling program for beach goers to take advantage of.
4. Institute a cigarette butt ashtray program.
  • Lee County Fertilizer Ordinance The use of fertilizer near major waterways is a contributor to the large and looming issue of red tide and algal blooms that can cause breathing problems and pollute beach water quality, impacting Lee's $2 billion tourism industry. The ordinance would limit any fertilizer application within 10 feet of a water way from June 1 to Sept 30. Fees for violation would be up to $500. The Chapter partnered with Sierra Club, SCCF, Nature Conservancy, PURRE, RGMC and Riverwatch.
  • Clean Oceans Act in Florida The Clean Oceans Act sets up a mechanism for gambling boats to stop dumping 44 million gallons of pureed, chlorinated waste into the ocean every year. It requires gambling boats to register with DEP, pay berth facilities for waste hauling or use an onboard “closed system” treatment, and report waste releases to DEP. In addition it petitions the federal government to prohibit dumping in federal waters. This campaign was spearheaded by the Sebastian Inlet Chapter with major support from the entire Florida Chapter Network.
  • Florida Inlet Management Bill Florida has over 60 inlets around the state, many have been artificially deepened to accommodate commercial and recreational vessels and employ jetties to prevent sand from filling in the channels. A by-product of this practice is that the jetties and the inlet channels have interrupted the natural flow of sand along the beach causing an accumulation of sand in the inlet channel and at the jetty on one side of the inlet, and a loss of sand to the beaches on the other side of the inlet. This issue has exasperated the amount of large beach dredging projects instead of looking back at the inlets to solve the problem. The state’s beach management efforts to finally address beach erosion caused by Florida’s inlets (80% of the problem) will include recommendations to mitigate the erosive impacts of the inlet and recommendations regarding cost sharing among the governments. This campaign was championed by chapters throughout Florida. More info.
  • South Florida Oceans Outfalls Closure Bill Six South Florida sewage outfalls dump over 300 million gallons of wastewater into the sea and squander 100 billion gallons of freshwater every year. This discharge impacts not only our coastal and ocean environment but it is also a waste of valuable freshwater that could be used to help out with South Florida’s drinking water shortage. This piece of legislation will remove over 300 million gallons of wastewater from Florida waters a year and by 2025 will have created a reuse system for it. Chapters throughout Florida partnered with Florida Ocean & Coastal Coalition and Palm Beach County Reef Rescue on this campaign. More info.
  • Florida Beach Test Funding Protected During a year of heavy budget cuts it usually the items that are thought to be the most benign that are first to go. So when House Health Care Council puts beach monitoring in the same line item with birth registries and cesspools it bound to get over overlooked as important. A proposal to cut the entire state portion of beach monitoring would be a disaster to the public’s health and safety, especially in a state that derives 85% of its tourism from its coastline. Thanks to the efforts of the Florida Chapters funding won't be cut. The Florida portion of the federal Beach Act grant for next year is $526,320 and state funding will remain intact at $525,000. More info.
  • Protected Beach Access at Bonaire Beach. The Town of Jupiter Island requested that Rep. Mahoney insert legislation that would give the Town first right of refusal to purchase a surplus Coast Guard property consisting of 10 acres, including 900 ft. of beachfront. The property being acquired from the Coast Guard was to be used for conservation and storm protection purposes. The bill did not include the property being opened for beach access. Properties designated for conservation should include customary recreational use. The Treasure Coast Chapter raised their voices and were able get an inter-local agreement between the Town and County Commission that not only opened the Coast Guard beachfront property for beach access but it also increased the nearby Hobe Sound Beach parking lot with 20 additional spaces.
  • Protected Coral Reef from Pollution in Lake Worth. The City of Lake Worth was going to vote on a plan to use a coral reef as a city dump for reverse osmosis effluent. The pursuit by the City of Lake Worth to discharge 4 million-gallons-per-day of nutrient-laden wastewater onto a coral reef was derailed by public outcry after FDEP announced plans to issue a permit. At a public meeting in June 2007 coral reef experts testified that this plan was a disaster waiting to happen. The FDEP received more than 1,000 letters objecting to the permit from the public, environmental organizations, Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resource Management and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. As a result FDEP and the City chose to change the permit from ocean discharge to injection and only use the existing outfall pipe in an emergency. More info.
  • Improved Beach Access in Walton County Land that was granted to the public for use as a beach access in order to perform a dredging project was under attack by beachfront condo owners. Property owners were concerned that if the proposed parking that underlies the project is constructed, environmental problems will arise and more beach-goers will trespass on their property. Beachgoers had been parking on the side of the road on this dirt easement. The county attorney recently rendered the opinion that the property is public access. The Scenic Gulf Drive project will place over 100 parallel parking spaces adjacent to the Whale’s Tail Restaurant on Miramar Beach.
  • Stopped new law that would allow more beach armoring in FL. The proposed legislative language would have changed existing policy to allow one type of armoring to be used anywhere and for any reason. FL Chapters rallied to prevent this, protecting beaches.
  • Florida Access Legislation Florida Statute Chapter 161 Beach Management, had only protected lateral beach access when it came to coastal construction permitting. By adding several sentences to the definition of “access”, both lateral and perpendicular are now protected. The legislation was instigated by the South Florida Chapter's campaign to re-open access at Bal Harbour.
  • Access Restored in South Florida The South Florida chapter regained access to a public beach which had been closed indefinitely by developers in the midst of a construction project and no temporary access was put in place. More info.
  • Stopped Sewage Outfall at Delray Beach The Palm Beach County Chapter assisted/partnered with another local group and the county to eliminate dumping from a sewage outfall in order to protect endangered corals and the reef ecosystem. This is the first ocean outfall ever closed in Florida. More info.
  • Treasure Coast destructive restoration project stopped The Treasure Coast Chapter protected nearshore sand shoals off the coast of Florida from dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when the Corps announced they had dropped a plan to use sand off the Fort Pierce coast for a beach fill project in Miami-Dade County.
  • Saved surfing access at Cocoa Beach Pier The Sebastian Inlet Chapter saved surfing access at Cocoa Beach Pier.
  • Surfing access to Deerfield Beach FL The Palm Beach County Chapter secured surfing access at Deerfield Beach where it had been restricted.
  • Ponte Vedra FL beach access The First Coast Chapter won an important victory when the Florida Seventh Circuit Court ordered obstructions removed to open beach access in Ponte Vedra.
  • The South Florida Chapter made the South Pointe Continuum towers make a wider and nicer pathway to replace the old one connecting Penrods to South Point Park
  • The Treasure Coast Chapter, aided by the Florida Sportsman communications network, area fishing and diving clubs and federal agencies, convinced the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to require St. Lucie County to replace all of the more than 200,000 cubic yards of inferior quality sand that was used to rebuild 3.7 miles of dunes after the 2004 hurricanes.
  • Lake Worth surf saved Activists from the Palm Beach Chapter helped convince the Lake Worth City Council to reject a disastrous dredge and fill project that would have significantly degraded the Lake Worth surf break.

To see all of Surfrider Foundation's coastal victories and campaigns, go here.


State of the Beach Report: Florida
Florida Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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