Coastal Dune Lakes are extremely rare ecosystems, which exist in just a few places around the world. They are primarily freshwater systems that sit along the coastline, but in South Walton County, the lakes periodically break through the beach and connect to the Gulf of Mexico. A saltwater exchange occurs, which supports an incredible biological community.
1. What is the Coastal Dune Lake Protection Zone? It is defined as all land beginning at the mean or ordinary high water line of Coastal Dune Lakes and their tributaries and extends 300 feet landward.
2. What is the building setback from a Coastal Dune Lake? There is a 100 foot setback from the mean or ordinary high water line of all coastal dune lakes, unless the lot is an existing lot of record established before November 7, 1996 (See Policy L-1.5.7(B) of the Comp Plan for lots of record).
3. What restrictions are there for development located within the Coastal Dunes Protection Zone? Please refer to the Homeowner’s Guide for quick reference or 4.02.06 (B) of the Land development Code for complete and updated information. *No more than 25% of vegetation can be cleared. *Septic tanks and drain fields must be at least 100 feet from the ordinary or mean high water line. *Seawalls, bulkheads, revetments and rip-rap are not allowed. *No new point or non-point sources of pollution shall be discharged into the lakes – no treated wastewater or untreated storm water runoff. *No construction or disturbance will be allowed in the natural outlet from a coastal dune lake.
4. Why are these lakes important? These coastal features are recognized by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory as globally rare and critically imperiled throughout the state of Florida. The changing condition of water chemistry in the coastal dune lakes makes them dynamic, biologically diverse ecosystems, Temporary estuaries and nursery grounds are formed when the fresh and saltwater mix, providing important breeding areas for birds and mammals. Beach dunes around the lakes provide habitat for the endangered Choctawhatchee beach mouse and threatened piper plover.
5. What can you do to help preserve these unique natural treasures? Stay on the marked trails and boardwalks and avoid walking across dunes and trampling vegetation. Be respectful of the lakes and their natural process, do not dig in or around the lake outfalls. See 4.02.06(B)9 of the Land Development Code. It states that a 50 foot vegetated buffer will be left undisturbed along either side of the natural outlet from the lake.