We are thrilled to announce that Florida House Bill 1489, a bill designating the southern area of Brevard County as an Area of Critical State Concern, was signed into law by the Governor yesterday!
Brevard County’s south beaches join only five other areas in Florida with this designation, including the Florida Keys, Key West, Big Cypress, the Green Swamp and the Apalachicola Bay area.
This new protection area contains the entirety of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, a 20.5-mile section of shoreline between Melbourne Beach and Wabasso Beach – the most important sea turtle nesting beach in the United States. It also contains the Indian River Lagoon, an important estuary, recreational fishery, and developmental habitat for sea turtles.
The law requires state, regional, and local government agencies to prevent the adverse impacts of development on resources critical to sea turtle habitat. This includes prohibiting new shoreline hard armoring, reducing nutrient pollution to improve water quality, supporting nature-based solutions to restore habitat, ensuring that development is compatible with the barrier island’s natural resources, and more. Read the full language here.
After learning about efforts to increase development density on Brevard’s South Beaches earlier this year, Sea Turtle Conservancy worked with Barrier Island Protection and Preservation Association (BIPPA), 1000 Friends of Florida, and Brevard County legislators to help draft and advocate for this legislation. At every committee stop, including the full House and Senate, the bill passed unanimously. We believe this was due to the overwhelming feedback legislators received from community members and supporters about the bill.
We thank Representative Thad Altman and Senator Tom Wright for filing this legislation, as well as their staff aides who helped usher the legislation through the process. The bills had strong support from the entire Brevard County legislative delegation. We are also grateful to our conservation partners, legislators, local community members, and our dedicated supporters who helped contribute to this victory for sea turtles!