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Public Mostly Rejects State Proposal for 2.7 Miles of Manatee Speed Zones in Flagler Waters

| February 29, 2012

John and Mary Slattery of Palm Coast look over maps outlining proposed speed zones in Flagler County's portion of the Intracoastal Waterway just before a hearing hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff in Flagler County Wednesday evening. (FlaglerLive)

Few of the 35-odd people who turned out for a hearing Wednesday evening on three proposed speed zones to protect manatees in Flagler County’s portion of the Intracoastal Waterway supported those speed zones. Instead, speaker after speaker criticized the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s proposal as overregulation disconnected from the economic and even biological realities of Flagler waters: no manatee deaths have been recorded in the past two years in Flagler, but, critics said, unemployment is high and speed zones will further strain what economic activity should be encouraged.

“We’re solving a problem that I don’t think is a problem in Flagler County,” Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts said. Netts chaired the local rule-review committee established by law to give the state agency Flagler’s response to the rule proposal. The speed zones, Netts said, will have a “significant impact” in the county’s economy. The proposal is still “not in the best interest of Flagler County,” he said, criticizing Fish and Wildlife for not hearing Gov. Rick Scott’s directive to make the state more “user-friendly, and to reduce unemployment. Had the manatee-death survey data included recent years, the fatality “spike” would have diminished significantly, making speed zones unnecessary, Netts said.

Laureen Kornel, also a member of the rule-review committee, was one of just four people, out of 16 who addressed Fish and Wildlife’s representatives, who supported the proposed rule—and said it should have been broader, rather than watered down. The rule-review committee, she said,” was polarized, it wasn’t balanced,” with representation weighted “heavily to one side in the interest of boaters.”

The speed zones Fish and Wildlife is proposing, at a combined 2.7 miles out of 18.6 miles of waterway, are far more modest than the commission had originally proposed. Still, county opponents were not swayed. Most agreed to one speed zone—around the Hammock Dunes bridge, where Palm Coast canals’ boating traffic dumps into the waterway. But opposition was united against the other two speed zones.

Wednesday’s hearing, led by Fish and Wildlife Section leader Kip Frohlich and held at the Government Services Building’s main chambers in Bunnell, is the next-to-last opportunity for the public to address the proposed rule in an open forum. The Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to meet in late April or in early May, very likely to approve the rule for new speed zones.

It all started in 2007 when the commissioners approved a manatee protection plan. Coastal Flagler and St. Johns were identified in the plan as areas the commission should review for speed zones, because manatee deaths at the time were increasing, and there were—and still aren’t—speed zones in place along the Intracoastal. About 64 miles of the Intracoastal Waterway were analyzed. Zones were not warranted in St. Johns, the commission found, but were warranted in Flagler. In March 2010, a rule-review committee was established locally to review the state’s proposal and make its counter-proposal, which essentially added up to almost no speed zones. It favored more education instead.

When the state originally proposed its new rules, it projected 6.7 miles of speed zones out of Flagler County’s 18.6 miles of waterway. After much wrangling between the state and the county committee, that was negotiated down to 2.7 miles.

One of them is in the C-section of Palm Coast’s canals (0.6 miles), just south of Hammock Dunes bridge. Another zone is Lehigh Canal, near Sea Ray Boats, and the Intracoastal itself from State Road 100 to Beverly Beach. The southern portion of the zone would be from shore to shore. The northern portion would have a speed zone apply only to half the width of the Intracoastal.

The third speed zones extends for just under 1 mile at the southern end of the county’s waterway, to the Volusia County line. There is a year-round speed zone in effect on a portion of the waterway there. That portion would no longer be a year-round zone. The speed zone would apply only to the four warm months of the year, from May 1 to Sept. 7. That stretch of time, too, was severely narrowed. It was originally to extend from April 1 to October 31. Opposition from Flagler closed the window.

[More details to come.]

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24 Responses for “Public Mostly Rejects State Proposal for 2.7 Miles of Manatee Speed Zones in Flagler Waters”

  1. Angela Smith via Facebook says:


  2. Margaret Federle Wallace Carter via Facebook says:

    Save the manatees! dang dudes……;(

  3. I work next to the Intra Coastal. Florida Fish and Wild Life should come spend the day with me and watch boaters zip by. I am glad I’m not a manatee or dolphin. :(

  4. Tracy O'Hara DiGeorgio via Facebook says:

    How will the speed zones have a significant impact on the county’s economy???

    • Kip Durocher says:

      They won’t, that is just made up BS by the Palm Coast mayor.
      To claim “significant impact” would require real studies, real data.
      Politics and politicians – business (read bullshit) as usual, he has
      They need the intracostal to speed up and down as most of them
      are afraid to go out in the ocean.

    • New Jersey says:

      That is just noise from the mayor, who has to say something, anything, an elected official who has been around way too long.
      The citizens get the “benefit” of his line of reasoning as an elected official.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    To start with I do not think this meeting was properly advertised as like myself probably most missed it.
    Maybe the one’s voting against the slower speed zone respect our manatees in the intracoastal. I know some of our boaters like the Slattery’s and others being responsible sailors. The others, the careless speedy one’s that even speed inside our saltwater canals with total disregard for manatees, seawalls and docked vessels are the one’s that raise our concern. Did anyone see about two weeks ago that 45’s plus ft white with blue trim older model yacht with a “Caribbean” name fast sailing in our main Country Club Canal, that host so many manatees families? You plead with them for slowing down and they shout back with explicit calls. Now we don’t even have anymore the wild life officer jurisdiction on our saltwater canals as is the cities and then falls under the sheriff jurisdiction as I was told as well that the sheriff patrol boats are no where to be seeing. Then we have no law enforcement for speeders in our canals now: no wildlife officer as we used to have, no coast guard auxiliary, no sheriff patrol, but the canals are under city jurisdiction….? Let see Mayor Netts what is your answer to this? Sure we pay our fee for our water ways and high taxes in our water fronts homes then, where is our patrol service, if called for a speeder? Maybe is gone the way of our mosquito spraying that I pay right now in my home taxes $34.09/year, for no service at all comparison with the good service rendered when ITT was here. Landon is told and he belives that the spray is done aerial now, not by the usual truck spraying we all used to hear during early dawn or late night…oh yeah aerial ? Just do away with the mosquito control tax as was the only common sense proposal of Rick Scott, so I use it to defray the cost of all the mosquito fighting gadgets that I have to buy each year. This tax only pays for the burocratic amount of people in those state dependencies not our much needed mosquito control spraying. What ever happened lately?

  6. B. Claire says:

    R E C O U N T !

    Fire the Politicians.

    Hire the manatees….They obviously need a voice.

    * Support your local manatees *

  7. Kelly Mangaroo via Facebook says:

    Because going slower for less tan 3 miles just ruins your whole boat ride… What’s next? getting rid of 20mph school zones/kids at play zones?

  8. Me first and most important! Who cares about what’s around me! An attitude that prevails.

  9. Layla says:

    These meetings have been going on for the past year. The mayor would have to tell you how many there have been, but all have been publicly advertised.

    Data has been presented by all levels of government. The fact is that we are one of the safest areas on the Intracoastal Waterway.

    You sound as though there has been some kind of coverup, when all meetings have been public and well attended.

    Kip, these impact studies have been conducted by the state and federal governments, real data has been on display.

  10. BILOXI says:

    Manatees, basically the cows of the waterway. Go buy a boat and then tell me how much you love the manatee zones!!

    Lets focus on Gas Prices, Food Prices, upcoming election!! Get real…

    • Kip Durocher says:

      Have a boat. 50+ years Florida boater.
      Coast Guard Captain.
      Love Manatee zones and Manatees
      If you must do nothing but speed around go
      In the ocean.
      As I previously stayed most transplanted
      Florida boaters are afraid to go out to the deep blue.

  11. SAW says:

    If you would like FWC to know you support our manatees write to he is being pressured by a few special interests including their local mayoral leader.

  12. palm coast resident says:

    No manatees have been killed in the last two years! The FWC are trying to solve a problem that we dont have! Why dont we lower the speed on 95 where we have human fatalities on a monthly basis? That is more of a problem to me! Our priorities are a little off!

    • palmcoastpioneers says:

      @PalmCoaster – you most probably see Manatees in the Main Canal because the ‘Golf Course Wateway’ / ‘Sesame Island” area is a birthing area for them; they are in / around the endangered Mangrove there.

    • Layla says:

      And just to be safe, let’s lower the speed limit on all our roads, especially our neighborhoods, to 5 mph.

      Lots of people with too much time on their hands here. You had every opportunity to attend these meetings. Others have.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Government trying to “FIX” a problem that does NOT exist.

  14. John Boy says:

    Sea Cows are not indigenous to The United States. They where brought in to control vegetation in canals, 50 years ago they where actually hunted and eaten by Floridians. The environmentalist found a ” piggy bank” in the manatee, which pays for many of their outlandish causes and lawsuits they bring against the taxpayers.

    Blackmail and intimidation is the trade mark way of solving problems that don’t exist.

  15. hahahahaha says:

    save the humans.

  16. Anonymous says:

    For those who say boaters should use the ocean to go faster then 5-10MPH you do know there is no inlets in Flagler county to use. if we had many kills of these animals in our waters I could understand relooking at the rules we have now but as it is not the case why do we need to fix a non-problem??

  17. palmcoaster says:

    @John Boy…where did you get your misinformation?Can you document when Floridians introduced (the native manatee) and who did it and also ate it?

  18. John Boy's cousin says:

    Palmcoaster, mama said it was true. She also said alligators are angry because they have all them teeth but no toothbrush. Don’t you question mama.

  19. On the water says:

    FWC studies show we don not need speed zones. It is all pressure from Army Core of Engineers. For those that think its no big deal how would you fell if I told you had to drive 2.7 miles at 10 mph because you might hit an armadillo. I bet most of you don’t even obey the 30 mph speed limits in residential neighborhoods.

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