Friday, May 4, 2012
New manatee protection zones coming to Flagler County
Flagler County is getting new manatee protection zones, which will be in effect from May 1 through Sept. 7 once signs are posted.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) worked closely with Flagler County and other stakeholders to establish zones on the Intracoastal Waterway that will improve manatee protection while limiting the impact on local businesses and boaters.
On Thursday, the Commissioners approved the new manatee conservation measure, which had been published and also discussed at a Feb. 29 public hearing in Bunnell.
"In summer, when the new manatee protection zones are in effect, the time needed for a boater to travel the entire length of the Intracoastal Waterway in Flagler County will increase by about 15 minutes," said Kipp Frohlich, leader of the FWC's Imperiled Species section.
There will be 2.7 miles of slow-speed zones on the 18.6 miles of Intracoastal Waterway channel within the county.
Manatee protection zones will be posted in these areas:
• near Hammock Dunes Parkway Bridge in Palm Coast;
• near Flagler Beach from the Highway 100 bridge to the Silver Lake area, including the Lehigh Canal; and
• in the vicinity of Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area.
Summer months are when manatees are most likely to be found in the Intracoastal Waterway in Flagler County, and that is also the time when increased boat traffic presents a greater risk of injury to manatees. As a result, the manatee protection zones in Flagler County will be in effect annually from May 1 through Sept. 7, to include Labor Day.
Diane Hirth, 850-251-2130