Regulatory Obstacles to Common Sense Solutions
The implementation of habitat restoration projects is an important component towards the re-establishment of natural ecological communities. There are a number of programs, organizations and funding entities which specifically targeted the implementation of native habitats; however, permitting these habitat restoriaon projects is not always easy! In many instances the regulatory rules were not written to address true restoration projects; in fact, in some cases local ordinances, originally drafted to protect water bodies, actually prohibit some restoration practices. From high permit application fees to outright permit denials, implementing habitat restoration projects is difficult. Some agencies have, in recent times, provided provisions for these types of projects, but they are limiting in nature and are only good for a few organizations. These regulatory rules must be revisited to streamline the authorization of true habitat restoration projects so more entities, including the public, can implement projects: like living shorelines.
Public Private Partnerships (P3s) are the way of the future! If the State of Florida acquired all of the land on their “wish” lists, they would only own 19% of the State, leaving 81% under private ownership. Most critical habitat restoration needs are not on publicly held properties so it is imperative that public/private partnerships are formulated to implement these significant projects. There are inherent perceived issues with utilizing public funds to restore private land holdings, but these can address with perpetual conservation easements and opportunities for some public access. We have been fortunate to have the opportunity to implement a number of P3s; the lessons learned and trails blazed will make it easier for future P3 projects.
Submitted by Thomas Ries, Scheda Ecological