A history of the Mangroves at Blue Crab Key
This website was produced by the Blue Crab Key Homeowners Association
Blue Crab Key Condominium Association was developed over a period of many years. Initial buildings were sold in the early 1980’s whereas the newest of our buildings date back to 2000. The Blue Crab Condominium Association is viewed by the state as a commercial enterprise and is regulated as such by state and local agencies.
The planting and/or preservation of mangroves on the property was part of the BCK development plan. Prior to 1996, the cutting of mangroves was not regulated by the state. The association in the past has done trimming of some mangrove areas and not of others. After 1996, BCK was required to adhere to the 1996 law.
Many individuals who have lived at Blue Crab for many years believe that we are “grandfathered” in to different regulations than those stated in the 1996 law. This is not true. We are “grandfathered” in to allow trimming of our mangroves according to the 1996 Mangrove Act.
In 2012, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) cited Blue Crab Key Condominiums to be in violation of the 1996 Act. Discussions with the DEP, which included on site visits, resulted in our inability to proceed with any mangrove trimming until the lowest illegal mangrove cuts on the property reached the minimum height (6 feet) allowed by law. We agreed to this stipulation, which resulted in the DEP delaying any fines based on our future performance. Per this agreement, the mangroves were not trimmed from the point of our meeting with the DEP until 2014 when trimming resumed under a DEP approved plan with a licensed mangrove trimmer. Bids were solicited from several companies and Forestry Resources was chosen for the job. They submitted a trimming plan to the DEP and have been supervised and graded on the trims by the DEP since that time.
Mangrove trimming regulations are detailed and involve types of cuts, height of cutting, amounts of trimming per visit, differing regulations for red, white and black mangroves, cutting styles allowed, timing of trimming, etc. The Blue Crab Board of Directors has worked closely with our mangrove trimmer to legally provide healthy, legal trims of the mangroves as well as to help provide water and dock views for our owners, as allowed by law.
There have been some complaints that the mangroves are not trimmed as they have been historically. This is true. Many of the mangroves at the east end of the property were planted in the late 1990’s and were structurally not as tall as mangroves on the west side. Hurricane Charlie also damaged many of our mangroves in 2004 and stunted their growth for several years following the hurricane. The community also had hired a mangrove trimmer who did not adhere to the 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act, which resulted in shorter cuts than legally allowed. In addition, several owners at Blue Crab were taking it upon themselves to trim mangroves by their buildings to enhance their personal view. These cuts are totally illegal and the Board has attempted to inform our owners of this situation. The Board is committed to stop any illegal cutting or destroying of any mangroves on the property. We are still being closely monitored by the DEP and violations could result in substantial fines, replanting of significant numbers of mangroves and the removal of the right to trim the mangroves at all.
Please be aware that the mangroves at Blue Crab Key are common property and belong to all of us. The majority of owners at Blue Crab are concerned about a healthy water environment that the mangroves provide, and our commitment to following the 1996 Mangrove Act. The Board has hired a licensed mangrove cutter to make two mangrove cuts during the year in the time frames least likely to adversely affect the plants and to hopefully benefit owners wishing to have a water and dock view.
Mangroves are tropical trees that grow in calm, intertidal areas of Florida. Pine Island is often referred to as a “mangrove island” where, instead of beaches, mangroves thrive and provide a rich habitat for marine creatures and fish, benefiting us and the environment. Mangrove roots and trunks help prevent shoreline erosion and can be beneficial in protecting property from severe wind damage due to storms. They also maintain and improve the quality of our coastal waters.
Mangroves grow rapidly and can form dense thickets that can block the view for waterfront property owners. Due to damaging cutting and trimming by Florida property owners and the recognition of the benefits of mangroves to the state of Florida, the Florida legislature enacted the 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act that regulates the trimming and alteration of mangroves statewide. In addition, local governing bodies have also enacted legislation to preserve and protect mangroves and their related species. Although the Act recognized a riparian right to a water view, it also stipulates that waterfront owners may not be able to legally obtain a view or all the view they desire.