This protected species could halt repairs to Florida homes damaged by hurricanes Ian and Nicole
WILBUR-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. - Some Florida homes that were damaged during the 2022 hurricane season will have to have their construction projects finished before turtle nesting season begins in May, or those projects will have to be put on hold.
Daytona Beach Shores Mayor Nancy Miller said her office has been told that construction projects will have to be completed by May 1, when turtle nesting season begins, which usually runs through the spring and into the summer.
"If you have not started construction by May 1 they’re saying you cannot do that. We are working with the state, federal, and county to try to make adjustments to that," she said.
And that's a problem for residents who have repairs to complete but are stuck in the middle of the permit approval process
Bill London, who lives in Wilbur-By-The-Sea, said he has been trying to get a permit approved to build a seawall in front of his beachside home since November.
"As you can see, it’s about six inches from taking my deck away. If we get another Nor’easter or storm, I don’t know if the house will survive," said London. "They’re saying if a turtle comes up and puts his nest right there, it’s over, I can’t do anything. And as much as I love turtles, that’s a problem."
Mayor Miller suggests there's only so much the local government can do because the state issues the permit. Though, she said she's been advocating for the state to work with – and be flexible – with residents. However, if, when, or how that would happen isn't immediately clear.
In the meantime, she said residents should focus on projects that the state will approve.
"Let’s face it, be honest, there are some people that are not going to make the May 1 deadline," said Mayor Miller. "What we need to do – along with the county and the state – is put in temporary measures that work. For the trap bags, people have used vinyl stakes – so we need some sort of temporary restoration."
A spokesperson for Volusia County said the county is trying to work with the state to allow people to continue their construction projects during turtle nesting season.
"The county is continuing to coordinate with staff from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding what, if any, construction may be permissible during sea turtle nesting season. The county is working through all possible options with the appropriate agencies to allow for repairs and construction of coastal property armament while ensuring the protection of the species and their habitat. At this time, the county has yet to receive any official written confirmation of what may be allowed," a statement said.