Regulatory newsletter
September 2015, Issue 4
Tips for preparing preservation only management plans

Mitigation provided by a permittee to offset project impacts to wetlands and other surface waters often involves the preservation of on-site or off-site mitigation areas through a conservation easement. Whether the mitigation plan involves wetland creation, restoration and enhancement activities, or simple preservation of appropriate wetland and upland communities, under the Statewide Environmental Resource Permit (SWERP) rules, contained in Chapter 62-330, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), approval of the mitigation plan typically requires the applicant to include a sufficient Mitigation Area Management Plan.

When a mitigation plan consists only of preservation of wetlands and uplands, the applicant may propose to implement a “Preservation Only Management Plan” (POMP), in lieu of a more intense management plan commonly associated with mitigation that involves wetland creation, restoration or enhancement. While preservation only mitigation typically need not meet mitigation success criteria, the applicant must still demonstrate that the preservation area will maintain its mitigation value in perpetuity.

The key function of the POMP is to provide such reasonable assurance needed for permit issuance. During the pre-application or application review process, St. Johns River Water Management District staff can provide guidance to the applicant on the appropriate components of a POMP. To provide additional assistance to applicants, the district has developed a POMP example/template.

The key components that should be included in an acceptable POMP are:

  • A brief description of the preservation area, including location and size
  • A brief description of the natural communities, including dominant vegetation
  • Identification of the exotic/nuisance species targeted by the plan
  • Target maximum coverage by exotic/nuisance vegetation for success (usually < 5%)
  • A brief description of the management activities and methods
  • Qualifications of personnel conducting the work

It is recommended that the applicant submit a management plan as part of the mitigation proposal during the pre-application stage. Ultimately, the management plan would be included as an exhibit to the conservation easement.

Understanding permit transfers

The district issues an individual environmental resource permit (ERP) to a person or entity (such as a company) rather than to the land or project. This is why a permit does not automatically transfer to the new owner when there is a change in ownership of the land or project. The permittee remains responsible for meeting conditions of the permit until the permit is transferred. There is no fee for a permit transfer.

There are two types of transfers. The first is called an “O&M Transfer.” This is a transfer to an operation and maintenance (O&M) entity that was approved during the permitting process, such as a homeowners’ association. The permittee must certify that the construction or alteration is in compliance with the permit by submitting a certification form, and then submitting a request for transfer form. The second, an “Ownership Transfer,” is for all other transfers regardless of whether construction has started.

The permit transfer process begins when the district receives a request. Depending on the type of transfer, and how recently ownership changed, the request may need to originate with the current permittee, the proposed permittee, or both. To determine the proper protocol, answer the following questions:

  • Was the project permitted under SWERP or ERP?
  • Is this an O&M transfer, or an ownership transfer?
  • Has ownership of the land changed within the last 30 days?

When submitting a transfer request, please submit through the district’s e-Permitting web page. E-Permitting will automatically fill out the form(s) for you after you enter the permit number and answer a couple of questions. You can use the graphic below to determine the correct letter or form to use.

Upon receiving a request, the district will process the information and either transfer the permit or request additional information if any is needed. District staff are available to answer questions during the permit transfer process.

Note: Slightly different rules apply to transfers of general permits and single family individual ERPs. In that case, a permittee submits a short form certifying that the construction or alteration is in compliance with the general permit or single family ERP, the permit will automatically transfer upon a change in ownership of the land.

How to find hydrologic data on the district’s website

Did you know that many of the district’s staff are involved in collecting and analyzing information that is used to make informed decisions in managing Florida’s water resources? This information is available to the public for a variety of reasons such as land use planning, floodplain mapping and water supply planning, just to name a few. In addition, district staff use this information to assist in their regulatory review and to develop computer models that are used to evaluate the water resource impacts of current and proposed water uses and for long-term water supply planning.

This information is available on this website by clicking on “data and tools” in the menu bar. The data includes rainfall amounts, well levels, surface water levels and fluctuations, mitigation banking, and an environmental data retrieval tool. A geographic information system interactive map viewer is available for use along with a variety of other information and tools that can be useful when submitting a permit application. Give it a try.