The long-awaited manatee protection plan is finally in place thanks to Palm Beach County, Fla. Commissioners. The plan establishes protection zones in some areas, and removes caps on the number of boat slips that can be built in areas where there is little manatee population, according to published reports. Adopting the plan will speed the marina permitting process, according to reports.
The commissioners also earmarked $1 million a year to spend on protection efforts. The funds will be used for an educational campaign targeted toward boaters, increased enforcement of no-wake zones and speed limits, and to create habitats and safe havens for manatees.
The county was facing a July 1 state-mandated deadline to complete the plan. The state in 1989 selected several counties to create a protection plan, but it was not enforced for several years.
The plan, adopted by county commissioners last Tuesday, goes to the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for approval.
The Conservation Commission two weeks ago downgraded the manatee from endangered to threatened on the imperiled species list, pending completion of a new management plan. The manatee is still listed as endangered on the federal list.