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Natural Resources

Natural Resources FAQ

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Residential lakeshores | Wildlife | Florida friendly landscaping |
Illicit Dumping & Stormwater | Urban Forest

Residential lakeshores

  • Can I use herbicide/clear vegetation from my lakeshore?
    In general, you can clear 50 ft or 50% (whichever is smaller) of shoreline to open water area without obtaining a permit. In addition, if you live on a private lake less than 160 acres, no permit is needed. For areas larger than that, you can obtain a permit from FWC (Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) which allows for herbicide application done by a certified individual on lakeshores and in the water. There are some specific circumstances, such as conservation easements, where this rule may not apply. Always exercise moderation in clearing lakeshores as lakeshore vegetation plays a large role in lake ecosystem stability. For any specific questions please reach out to us at (863) 291-5881
  • Can I create a sandy “beach” on my lakeshore?
    FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) has found that fabricating sandy beaches on lakeshores which are naturally vegetated in Florida causes adverse effects on lake health, such as increased pollutant run-off causing algal blooms and adverse effects on lake inhabitants (fish, shellfish etc). A dredge & fill permit from DEP is needed to create a sandy lakeshore, as well an ERP (Environmental Resource Permit) from the local Water Management District (SWFWMD).
  • Where can I get plants for my lakeshore?
    There are several nurseries in Central Florida which provide plants for lakeshores for wholesale. Some may require special arrangements for selling to residential customers. PlantAnt is a good resource for looking up local nurseries. Alternatively, the local UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Office is a very valuable resource on helping residents restore or promote Florida-friendly landscapes. In addition, the Natural Resources Division has a pilot Floating Treatment Wetland project from which aquatic plants are harvested and given away to residents periodically. Learn more about the program here, or call us at 863-291-5881 to be added to the mailing list when plants are available.

Wildlife

  • Are there alligators in my lake or pond? Are they dangerous?
    Any body of water, including smaller areas such as retention ponds, is a potential habitat for alligators. Like most wildlife, alligators have a natural fear of humans and are not a cause for concern. However, there are rare, exceptional circumstances where an alligator can become dangerous. If an alligator has been fed by humans or feels threatened then they can be aggressive. Alligators hunt during the hours of dusk and dawn so do not let dogs out on lakeshore property during these times. Mating season ranges from April-September in Florida, and it is best to be cautious of heavily secluded wetland areas, where they may place nests. If you observe an alligator exhibiting aggressive behavior or approaching humans, call the FWC Nuisance Gator Line at (866) 392-4286. On City property, call the Natural Resources Division at (863) 291-5881
  • What should I do if I see injured/deceased wildlife?
    If the animal is within City limits, call us at the number above and we will determine the best course of action. There are many wildlife refuges that operate in the area. If a deceased animal is found on your property or a public space call the Solid Waste Division to coordinate appropriate pickup.
  • Do I need a license to fish in our lakes?
    A license is needed to take fish from the lakes, but for recreational catch and release, no permit is needed. License types vary based on commercial or recreational use. Please visit the FWC page for more information

Florida Friendly Landscaping & Water Conservation

  • What is Florida-Friendly Landscaping?
    Florida-Friendly landscaping is a term that encompasses using plants and landscaping techniques that both conserve water usage as well as reduce the impact of residential & urban landscapes on the local environment. For information on Florida-Friendly gardening reach out to either the Natural Resources Office, the local UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Office, or the Water Conservationist with the Utilities Department.
  • Why/How can I conserve water on my property?
    The City’s Utilities Department has a Water Conservation program that can offer support in implementing water conserving habits in your home to save money. There is even a rebate available for low consumption toilets and smart irrigation control, pending availability. Visit the Water Conservationist page for more information.

Illicit dumping

  • What do I do if I witness dumping into a lake, river or drain?
    Contact the Natural Resources Division Office as close to the witnessing of the incident as possible at (863) 291-5881. Be prepared to provide details such as the location of the dumping, type, and severity. Natural Resources staff will investigate the incident and determine the appropriate action.

Urban Forest & Tree Ordinances

  • Are there rules on tree planting, removal, and maintenance?
    Outside of the rules for new commercial developments which require a certain amount of trees to be planted with each new construction, the City currently has no official ordinance or policy for urban forest management.