Florida Aquatic Weed Control Act

Florida Statutes

 

369.20 Florida Aquatic Weed Control Act.--

369.20  Florida Aquatic Weed Control Act.

369.22  Aquatic plant management.

369.20  Florida Aquatic Weed Control Act.--

(1)  This act shall be known as the "Florida Aquatic Weed Control Act."

(2)  The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall direct the control, eradication, and regulation of noxious aquatic weeds and direct the research and planning related to these activities, as provided in this section, so as to protect human health, safety, and recreation and, to the greatest degree practicable, prevent injury to plant and animal life and property.

(3)  It shall be the duty of the commission to guide and coordinate the activities of all public bodies, authorities, agencies, and special districts charged with the control or eradication of aquatic weeds and plants. It may delegate all or part of such functions to any appropriate state agency, special district, unit of local or county government, commission, authority, or other public body.

(4)  The commission shall also promote, develop, and support research activities directed toward the more effective and efficient control of aquatic plants. In the furtherance of this purpose, the commission is authorized to:

(a)  Accept donations and grants of funds and services from both public and private sources;

(b)  Contract or enter into agreements with public or private agencies or corporations for research and development of aquatic plant control methods or for the performance of aquatic plant control activities;

(c)  Construct, acquire, operate, and maintain facilities and equipment; and

(d)  Enter upon, or authorize the entry upon, private property for purposes of making surveys and examinations and to engage in aquatic plant control activities; and such entry shall not be deemed a trespass.

(5)  The commission may disburse funds to any special district or other local authority charged with the responsibility of controlling or eradicating aquatic plants, upon:

(a)  Approval by the commission of the control techniques to be used by the district or authority; and

(b)  Review and approval of the program of the district or authority by the commission.

(6)  The commission shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement provisions of this section conferring powers or duties upon it and perform any other acts necessary for the proper administration, enforcement, or interpretation of this section, including creating general permits and exemptions and adopting rules and forms governing reports.

(7)  No person or public agency shall control, eradicate, remove, or otherwise alter any aquatic weeds or plants in waters of the state unless a permit for such activity has been issued by the commission unless the activity or waters are expressly exempted by commission rule. The commission shall develop standards by rule which shall address, at a minimum, chemical, biological, and mechanical control activities; an evaluation of the benefits of such activities to the public; specific criteria recognizing the differences between natural and artificially created waters; and the different amount and quality of littoral vegetation on various waters. Applications for a permit to engage in aquatic plant control activities, including applications to engage in control activities on sovereign submerged lands, shall be made to the commission. In reviewing such applications, the commission shall consider the criteria set forth in subsection (2) and, in accordance with applicable rules, take final agency action on permit applications for the use of aquatic plant control activities on sovereign submerged lands.

(8)  As an exemption to all permitting requirements in this section and ss. 369.22 and 369.25, in all freshwater bodies, except aquatic preserves designated under chapter 258 and Outstanding Florida Waters designated under chapter 403, a riparian owner may physically or mechanically remove herbaceous aquatic plants and semiwoody herbaceous plants, such as shrub species and willow, within an area delimited by up to 50 percent of the property owner's frontage or 50 feet, whichever is less, and by a sufficient length waterward from, and perpendicular to, the riparian owner's shoreline to create a corridor to allow access for a boat or swimmer to reach open water. All unvegetated areas shall be cumulatively considered when determining the width of the exempt corridor. Physical or mechanical removal does not include the use of any chemicals or any activity that requires a permit pursuant to part IV of chapter 373.

(9)  A permit issued pursuant to this section for the application of herbicides to waters in the state for the control of aquatic plants, algae, or invasive exotic plants is exempt from the requirement to obtain a water pollution operation permit pursuant to s. 403.088.

(10)  Notwithstanding s. 369.25, the commission may collect aquatic plants to be used for habitat enhancement, research, education, and for other purposes as necessary to implement the provisions of this section.

(11)  The commission may quarantine or confiscate noxious aquatic plant material incidentally adhering to a boat or boat trailer.

(12)  The commission may conduct a public information program, including, but not limited to, erection of road signs, in order to inform the public and interested parties of this section and its associated rules and of the dangers of noxious aquatic plant introductions.

369.22  Aquatic plant management.--

(1)  This section shall be known as the "Florida Aquatic Plant Management Act."

(2)  For the purpose of this section, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings:

(a)  "Commission" means the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

(b)  "Aquatic plant" is any plant growing in, or closely associated with, the aquatic environment and includes "floating," "emersed," "submersed," and "ditch bank" species.

(c)  A "maintenance program" is a method for the management of aquatic plants in which control techniques are utilized in a coordinated manner as determined by the commission.

(d)  An "eradication program" is a method for the management of aquatic plants in which control techniques are utilized in a coordinated manner in an attempt to kill all the aquatic plants on a permanent basis in a given geographical area.

(e)  A "complaint spray program" is a method for the management of aquatic plants in which weeds are allowed to grow unhindered to a given level of undesirability, at which point eradication techniques are applied in an effort to restore the area in question to a relatively low level of infestation.

(f)  "Waters" means rivers, streams, lakes, navigable waters and associated tributaries, canals, meandered lakes, enclosed water systems, and any other bodies of water.

(g)  "Districts" means the six water management districts created by law and named, respectively, the Northwest Florida Water Management District, the Suwannee River Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District, and the Ridge and Lower Gulf Coast Water Management District; and on July 1, 1975, shall mean the five water management districts created by chapter 73-190, Laws of Florida, and named, respectively, the Northwest Florida Water Management District, the Suwannee River Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and the South Florida Water Management District.

(3)  The Legislature recognizes that the uncontrolled growth of aquatic plants in the waters of Florida poses a variety of environmental, health, safety, and economic problems. The Legislature acknowledges the responsibility of the state to cope with the uncontrolled and seemingly never-ending growth of aquatic plants in the waters throughout Florida. It is, therefore, the intent of the Legislature that the state policy for the management of aquatic plants in waters of state responsibility be carried out under the general supervision and control of the commission. It is the intent of the Legislature that the management of aquatic plants be carried out primarily by means of maintenance programs, rather than eradication or complaint spray programs, for the purpose of achieving more effective management at a lower long-range cost. It is also the intent of the Legislature that the commission guide, review, approve, and coordinate all aquatic plant management programs within each of the water management districts as defined in paragraph (2)(g). It is the intent of the Legislature to account for the costs of aquatic plant management programs by watershed for comparison purposes.

(4)  The commission shall supervise and direct all management programs for aquatic plants, as provided in this section, so as to protect human health, safety, and recreation and, to the greatest degree practicable, prevent injury to plant, fish, and animal life and to property.

(5)  When state funds are involved, or when waters of state responsibility are involved, it is the duty of the commission to guide, review, approve, and coordinate the activities of all public bodies, authorities, state agencies, units of local or county government, commissions, districts, and special districts engaged in operations to manage or eradicate aquatic plants. The commission may delegate all or part of such functions to any appropriate state agency, special district, unit of local or county government, commission, authority, or other public body. However, special attention shall be given to the keeping of accounting and cost data in order to prepare the annual fiscal report required in subsection (7).

(6)  The commission may disburse funds to any district, special district, or other local authority for the purpose of operating a program for managing aquatic plants in the waters of state responsibility upon:

(a)  Approval by the commission of the management techniques to be used by the district or authority; and

(b)  Review and approval of the program of the district or authority by the commission.

(7)  The commission shall prepare an annual report on the status of the aquatic plant management program which shall be posted on the commission's Internet website.

(8)  The commission shall have the authority to cooperate with the United States and to enter into such cooperative agreements or commitments as the commission may determine necessary to carry out the control or eradication of water hyacinths, alligator weed, and other noxious aquatic plant growths from the waters of the state and to enter into contracts with the United States obligating the state to indemnify and save harmless the United States from any and all claims and liability arising out of the initiation and prosecution of any project undertaken under this section. However, any claim or claims required to be paid under this section shall be paid from money appropriated to the aquatic plant management program.

(9)  The commission may delegate various aquatic plant management functions to any appropriate state agency, special district, unit of local or county government, commission, authority, or other public body. The recipient of such delegation shall, in accepting commitments to engage in aquatic plant management activities, be subject to the rules of the commission. In addition, the recipient shall render technical and other assistance to the commission in order to carry out most effectively the purposes of s. 369.20.

(10)  The commission is directed to use biological agents for the management of aquatic plants when determined to be appropriate by the commission.

(11)  The commission shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement the provisions of this section conferring powers or duties upon it and perform any other acts necessary for the proper administration, enforcement, or interpretation of this section, including adopting rules and forms governing reports.

(12)  No person or public agency shall control, eradicate, remove, or otherwise alter any aquatic plants in waters of the state unless a permit for such activity has been issued by the commission, or unless the activity or waters are expressly exempted by commission rule. The commission shall develop standards by rule which shall address, at a minimum, chemical, biological, and mechanical control activities; an evaluation of the benefits of such activities to the public; specific criteria recognizing the differences between natural and artificially created waters; and the different amount and quality of littoral vegetation on various waters. Applications for a permit to engage in aquatic plant management activities, including applications to engage in management activities on sovereign submerged lands, shall be made to the commission. In reviewing such applications, the commission shall consider the criteria set forth in subsection (4) and, in accordance with applicable rules, shall take final agency action on permit applications for the use of aquatic plant activities on sovereign submerged lands.

History.--s. 1, ch. 69-158; ss. 14, 26, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 4, ch. 70-203; s. 1, ch. 70-439; s. 350, ch. 71-136; s. 2, ch. 71-137; s. 140, ch. 77-104; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 23, ch. 78-95; s. 1, ch. 84-120; s. 1, ch. 92-147; s. 189, ch. 94-356; s. 93, ch. 99-245; s. 1, ch. 2000-146; s. 1, ch. 2001-258; s. 8, ch. 2008-150.

 

History.--ss. 1, 2, ch. 74-65; s. 4, ch. 80-129; s. 33, ch. 83-218; s. 16, ch. 84-254; s. 2, ch. 89-151; s. 188, ch. 94-356; s. 76, ch. 98-200; s. 92, ch. 99-245; s. 7, ch. 2008-150.

  

History.--ss. 1, 2, ch. 70-203; s. 3, ch. 80-129; s. 32, ch. 85-81; s. 1, ch. 89-151; s. 187, ch. 94-356; s. 2, ch. 96-238; s. 2, ch. 97-22; s. 75, ch. 98-200; s. 91, ch. 99-245; s. 6, ch. 2008-150.

 


 

Note.--Former s. 372.925.

 

Note.--Former s. 372.932.



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