Spring has sprung in Florida and now is the time to get ready for outdoor activities! Though never fun, it may be important to pull those unsightly weeds from your lakeshore so they don’t get tangled in your toes or tracked back into the house by the dogs. But are you allowed to pull those “weeds” from the lake? Since the lake is often a state-owned resource, the weeds would belong to the state as well. This means that removing them might require a permit.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is the agency responsible for issuing permits in accordance with the Florida Administrative Code (FAC) 68F-20. This code is what allows homeowners to manage the aquatic plants along their shoreline. However, reading through and understanding the FAC can be challenging. Below is a brief outline to help you determine when a permit is needed.
1. Check to see if your lake or pond falls under an exempted* waterbody:
- Do you own the entire shoreline surrounding the water? If the upland property is wholly owned by one person, then it would be exempt, and no permit is necessary.
- Is the waterbody private (no public boat ramp) and less than 160 acres in size? If yes, then no permit is necessary.
- If the lake is over 160 acres and/or a public waterbody- then a permit is likely needed.
*Waterbodies designated as “waters of special concern” do not have any exemptions. Talk with your local biologist for more information.
2. You’ve determined your lake may need a permit, but your weed removal activities may still be exempt.
- What can I do without a permit? You can physically remove plants (no herbicides) from your “access corridor” which is defined as 50’ in width or 50% of your shoreline (whichever is less) out to open water.
- What requires a permit?
- A permit is necessary if aquatic herbicides will be used to manage the plants.
- If you want to remove aquatic plants outside of the access corridor.
- Only non-native and nuisance vegetation is permitted to be removed outside the access corridor.
- Native plants must be left outside the access corridor.
3. Submit for a permit with the FWC
Go to the https://public.myfwc.com/crossdoi/lpis/ website and submit for a permit with the FWC online system. The process for obtaining a permit is free. The purpose is to ensure that homeowners are managing their aquatic plants for the benefit of the waterbody while providing access for the residents.
4. If you are unsure, contact the Bureau of Invasive Plant Management
If you are unsure what the plants are on your lakefront and you don’t know if you need a permit, call the Bureau of Invasive Plant Management at 863-534-7074 and ask for Sharon Stinson. She is a regulatory specialist for the FWC and will help connect you with the regional biologist in your area. They will assist with the process and may even schedule a site visit and teach you about the plants in your backyard!
If you feel your shoreline is in need of a little spring cleaning, following these steps will allow you to do it the right way and get you fully prepared for summer!
This blog post was written by Kelli Gladding, Biological Scientist at UF/IFAS CAIP. Questions or comments can be sent to the UF/IFAS CAIP communications manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow UF/IFAS CAIP on social media at @ufifascaip. Read more blogs like this one on the UF/IFAS CAIP blog.
UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Turning Science Into Solutions.