Nearly 150 miles of Florida beaches, including all of Palm Beach County and stretches in northern Broward and the Florida Keys, could be designated by federal wildlife managers as “critical habit” for loggerhead turtles.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which released the proposal on Friday, stressed that the designation wouldn’t affect landowner rights and was largely intended to draw attention to the importance of 90 beaches in six southeastern states which are prime nesting areas for the threatened species.
In Florida, much of the proposed area runs from Brevard County south to Palm Beach County. An eight-mile section of northern Broward would be included as well as Long Key and Bahia Honda in the Keys.
“Identifying this habitat will help us work with coastal communities to protect loggerhead nests and ensure that more hatchlings reach the water and begin their lives at sea,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. Major threats to turtles including artificial lighting, beach erosion and climate change.