Habitat Conservation Plan / Incidental Take Permit
2020 Sea Turtle Nesting Season Begins in May – The beaches of St. Johns County are home to several species of endangered or threatened sea turtles. Sea turtle nesting season begins May 1, and St. Johns County officials are asking residents, visitors, and businesses to help protect natural habitat by observing all nesting season laws and regulations. 2020 Sea Turtle Season
Nesting Season Rules – To comply with regulations that protect the turtles, beach driving and lighting rules are in effect May 1 to October 31. All beachfront properties are required to reduce the impact of interior and exterior lighting which may impact nesting sea turtles. Volunteer Opportunities and Share the Beach.
Sea Turtle and Beach Steward Program Volunteers Needed – St. Johns County is seeking volunteers to survey wrack lines to recover stranded washback sea turtles and conduct beach cleanups from August through November. Be a Sea Turtle Washback Program Volunteer
Sea Turtle Release – St. Johns County partnered with the South Carolina Aquarium to release six rehabilitated juvenile turtles back into the Atlantic Ocean. Sea Turtle Release Photos | Sea Turtle Guide
Coastal Construction Permits
Our Largest Natural Resource
The beaches of St. Johns County are the areas largest natural resource consisting of 41.1 miles of various sandy conditions. From coquina to white soft sand our beaches host a variety of coastal species as well as endless recreational opportunities. Visitors enjoy recreational and commercial fishing, surfing, horseback riding, sunbathing, beach combing, and beach driving.
Sharing Our Beaches
Beach driving is allowed on 16.3 miles of our beaches at varying levels of restriction. Beach driving is a lawful and traditional activity that can impact protected species such as sea turtles, the native Anastasia Island Beach Mice (AIBM), sensitive shorebirds, and their nesting and feeding habitat. St. Johns County recognized the need for coordinating lawful beach activities in a manner that maintains public use, while minimizing negative impacts to the natural beach/dune environment and the protected species that depend on its health. In August 2006, St. Johns County received approval from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for a 20 year Incidental Take Permit (ITP) and Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to minimize these possible effects.
Impact On Our Beaches
In addition to beach driving, there are a variety of other negative impacts brought on by human disturbance to sea turtles and AIBM. These include: public and private beachfront lighting; special beach events; human presence on the beach at night; feral and free-roaming cats; destruction of dunes by pedestrian traffic and horseback riding; trash and objects on the beach; coastal development and construction; seawalls, revetments, and other armoring structures; and other beach management activities.
For more information about the Habitat Conservation Plan and Special Use Permits, please call us at (904) 209-3740.
Want More Beach Info?
For more information about our beaches, please visit the Beaches section of the website.
Remember: Leave only your footprints in the sand.