CWCI Frequently Asked Questions

What is the CWCI?

  • Spearheaded by FWC, the CWCI is a multi-agency strategy to address coastal issues that affect wildlife and their habitats while considering human needs.  It has the broad goal of ensuring the long-term conservation of native wildlife in coastal ecosystems throughout Florida in balance with human activities.
  • The major objectives of the CWCI are to:
    1. Maintain wildlife populations - by finding ways to minimize adverse impacts that can result from human activities, maintain sustainable native populations, and maintain critical habitat for wildlife and plants in coastal areas.
    2. Maintain critical habitat - by seeking opportunities to restore natural coastal processes, re-establish habitat connectivity, and avoid and minimize adverse impacts from projects that modify the beach (for example, beach nourishment, raking, and coastal armoring).
    3. Maintain opportunities for recreational and commercial activities - by considering the interests of commercial users, groups focused on conservation, private property owners, and community interests in providing public access to the beach. See draft Vision, Goals and Strategies.

Santa Rosa Beach houseWhy is the CWCI necessary?

  • Many species of wildlife are dependent upon coastal ecosystems, 17 of which are state or federally listed - including 5 species of sea turtles, 5 subspecies of beach mice, and 6 species of shorebirds.  Development of individual species management plans by FWC staff, partners and stakeholders is time-intensive, and could potentially create conflicting recommendations for different species.

  • Wildlife needs and human activities are often in conflict as a result of Florida's growing population and the importance of beaches and other coastal habitats to our economy.

  • Continuing habitat loss and degradation, increasing levels of disturbance in coastal areas-from beach nourishment, coastal development, and even recreational activities-as well as the implications of climate change and sea level rise  make addressing the coastal zone in a comprehensive manner a priority.

How is the CWCI different from the statewide Beaches HCP?

  • The CWCI will have a broader scope than the Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) being developed by FWC and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The CWCI is an "umbrella" program of which the HCP is one strategy.

  • The HCP will address activities that occur seaward of the coastal construction control line (CCCL). Although this is an important component of the coast, vital wildlife habitat also occurs landward of the CCCL in multiple habitat types, including coastal strand and tidal flats.

The coastal zone already has protection, and many regulations, through other programs. Why is another program necessary?

  • We use the analogy of a tool-shed:  there are many important tools - in the form of existing programs - to protect the coastal zone; but currently the shed isn't organized in a way that allows landowners, managers, and agencies to survey all of the tools, and select the ones that they can best use to protect wildlife under different scenarios.

  • The CWCI will provide a mechanism to develop and coordinate links between existing programs and identify gaps where additional actions are needed.

sea-lavender.jpgIs the CWCI going to be a written plan or some other document?

  • A static plan or document is not the intention, but rather development of an interactive process that any agency can utilize to: coordinate on issues, address emerging issues, and provide for greater consistency statewide on the protection of wildlife and their habitats in the coastal area in concert with human activities.

  • The strategies that will be used in the development of this process may include:

    1. An extensive education and outreach effort - to garner participation and input from potential partners and stakeholders.

    2. Compilation of regulations and programs throughout the state that pertain in some way to the coastal zone, and how they may overlap.

    3. Identification of threats to wildlife and habitats, as well as management actions that can be developed and implemented to avoid and minimize such threats.

Why will other agencies need to participate?

  • FWC has statutory authority for the wildlife in Florida.  However, many regulatory and land management programs are housed within other state agencies, counties, and municipal governments.   To be successful, the CWCI will require that other agencies be full partners in development and implementation.

How does the CWCI fit with other FWC programs?

Other conservation efforts lead by FWC include:

  • Florida's Wildlife Legacy Initiative is a long-term commitment for preserving all of Florida's wildlife and their habitats.  It includes the State Wildlife Grant Program, development of partnerships, and Florida's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy.

  • Florida's State Wildlife Action Plan (previously the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy) identifies and ranks many threats and actions related to coastal ecosystems, which the CWCI will utilize to help establish priorities.

  • The Cooperative Conservation Blueprint is a multi-partner strategic planning process that the Florida Wildlife Legacy Initiative is undertaking to create a long-range conservation system for the state.  Its statewide scale is similar to the scope of the CWCI, and it will be utilized as a tool to help identify common priorities among partners and stakeholders.

  • The FWC Climate Change Team is responsible for developing a comprehensive action plan for addressing climate change issues as they related to fish and wildlife.

Each of these programs has components that overlap with the goals of the CWCI. The CWCI will coordinate with these on-going efforts to maximize conservation efforts.

Is the CWCI working on any specific issues now?

  • The CWCI focuses on the following priority issues:
      1. Critical Wildlife Areas — providing areas where important congregations of wildlife can be protected from human impacts during critical parts of their life cycle
      2. Vegetation Management — providing habitat for wildlife by strategically planting or removing vegetation, based upon their differing usage of either sandy areas or vegetated areas 
      3. Disturbance — minimizing impacts of temporary actions associated with recreational use of beaches by people or their pets that alter the natural behavior of wildlife
      4. Coastal Armoring, Shoreline Stabilization and Hardening — replacing traditional “hardened” methods of shoreline stabilization, such as seawalls, with more natural “living” shorelines that not only provide shoreline stabilization but also habitat for wildlife while maintaining natural coastal processes.
      5. Nourishment — providing protection measures from the negative impacts of beach nourishment on wildlife
      6. Beach Wrack and Mechanical Beach Cleaning — emphasizing the importance of beach wrack to wildlife and reducing mechanical beach cleaning which removes wrack and disturbs wildlife
      7. Posting in Navigable Waterways — posting signs in navigable waterways to prevent disturbance of waterbirds
  • Some of the issues have specific associated projects currently ongoing, while others are still in the development phase. 

FWC Facts:
Florida is a peninsula, which contributes to the number of invasive species affecting our ecosystem.

Learn More at AskFWC