Habitat Conservation


Habitat Conservation Section ensures protection of the County’s endangered animal and plant species and protection of critical habitats. The beaches of St. Johns County are recognized as important nesting habitat for coastal wildlife and for offering a variety of recreational uses.

Our Largest Natural Resource

The beaches of St. Johns County are the areas largest natural resource consisting of 41.1 miles of various sandy conditions. From coquina to white soft sand our beaches host a variety of coastal species as well as endless recreational opportunities. Visitors enjoy recreational and commercial fishing, surfing, horseback riding, sunbathing, beach combing, and beach driving.

Sharing Our Beaches

Beach driving is allowed on 16.3 miles of our beaches at varying levels of restriction. Beach driving is a lawful and traditional activity that can impact protected species such as sea turtles, the native Anastasia Island Beach Mice (AIBM), sensitive shorebirds, and their nesting and feeding habitat. St. Johns County recognized the need for coordinating lawful beach activities in a manner that maintains public use, while minimizing negative impacts to the natural beach/dune environment and the protected species that depend on its health.

In August 2006, St. Johns County received approval from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for a 20-year Incidental Take Permit (ITP) and Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to minimize these possible effects.

Impact on Our Beaches

In addition to beach driving, there are a variety of other negative impacts brought on by human disturbance to sea turtles and AIBM.

  • public and private beachfront lighting
  • special beach events
  • human presence on the beach at night
  • feral and free-roaming cats
  • destruction of dunes by pedestrian traffic and horseback riding
  • trash and objects on the beach
  • coastal development and construction
  • seawalls, revetments, and other armoring structures
  • beach management activities.