Wildlife Habitats Policy | 02-12-2014
Background of Certified Natural Wildlife Habitats:
As of November, 2013, fifty (50) Sunshine Water Control District (SWCD) Property Owners on District canals are shown by Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management Division as having obtained Certified Natural Wildlife Habitat status. These certifications were issued to the homeowners addresses through programs with either the National Wildlife Federation Program or the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Program. The Wildlife Habitats are certified only within the homeowner’s own property lines. The use of District property, rights-of-way or easements for Certified Wildlife Habitat was not part of the property owner’s Certification approval. There are a number of Certified Wildlife Habitats, however, whose vegetation boundaries have encroached onto SWCD Right-of-Ways.
There are currently twelve (12) residents identified by the Sunshine District Engineer with major Wildlife Habitat vegetation encroaching into the SWCD Right-of-Way and others with minor encroachments. Some of these residents approached the SWCD Board of Supervisors to consider allowing their existing Certified Wildlife Habitat vegetation to remain on District property under certain conditions. The Board directed staff to draft a SWCD Natural Wildlife Habitat Policy, as follows.
SWCD Natural Wildlife Habitat Policy
- SWCD acknowledges that a number of property owners have Certified Wildlife Habitat status on their own property through programs under the National Wildlife Federation Program or the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Program. SWCD is aware that many of these Habitats have encroached onto District property from their private property vegetation origins. The District recognizes the environmental benefits of these habitats and is agreeable to work with residents in helping to preserve as much habitat as possible within the confines of its statutory and operational responsibilities.
- Vegetation that has encroached into SWCD Right-of-Way from properties with Certified Wildlife Habitats will be given special consideration to remain on a case by case basis. This special consideration is subject to the terms and conditions of this SWCD Natural Wildlife Habitat Policy.
- Only existing Certified Wildlife Habitats identified by Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management Division as of the date of approval of this SWCD Natural Wildlife Habitat Policy will be considered under this Policy.
- No new Wildlife Habitats certified through Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management Division, National Wildlife Federation Program, or the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Program after the date of approval of this SWCD Natural Wildlife Habitat Policy, can be considered under this Policy. All Wildlife Habitats certified after the date of approval of this SWCD Natural Wildlife Habitat Policy will not be permitted to encroach on SWCD right-of-ways or easements.
- A resident who has existing Certified Wildlife Habitat vegetation encroaching on SWCD Right-of-Way must submit a SWCD Application to retain such Wildlife Habitat vegetation within the SWCD Right-of-Way under the conditions and be approved by District Board of Supervisors. (Application to be available at www.sunshinewcd.net).
- Copies of the Certification through Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management Division, National Wildlife Federation Program, or the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Program must accompany submitted Applications.
- District Staff will conduct a field investigation at Habitat site inventorying all of the current foliage and plantings within right-of-way or easement. Pictures will be taken to support the inventory list.
- Invasive and nuisance plants or trees within the SWCD Right-of-Way or easement are subject to removal by Applicant as a condition for Wildlife Habitat vegetation to remain on District property.
- If an Application to retain encroachment is approved, an Option 3 Wildlife Habitat Agreement (attached), with special conditions, must be executed by the resident applicant and District. Executed copy of signed, notarized and witnessed Agreement will be sent to Applicant.
- If the Property Owner receiving approval for existing Certified Wildlife Habitat vegetation to remain in the SWCD Right-of-Way or easement does not adhere to all conditions set forth in the Agreement, all vegetation will be removed from the District Right-of-Way or easement by the SWCD at the property owner’s expense.
- Agreement is transferable if property ownership changes hands. New Owner must submit application to record new agreement with District.
- If SWCD requires emergency access to its Right-of-Way or easement for life, health or safety reasons, any or all material from an approved Certified Wildlife Habitat encroachment can be removed and will not be replaced by District.
- SWCD Board reserves the right to accept or reject any application in its sole discretion and for any reason whatsoever.