Countywide Wetland and Natural Resources Protection Codes

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In 2018, Alachua County adopted countywide wetland protection standards outlined in Chapter 77,  Article II Countywide Wetland Protection Code. Chapter 78​, Countywide Natural Resources Protection Code, was later adopted in 2021, and outlines protection standards for significant habitat, listed species habitat, strategic ecosystems, and significant geologic features.  

Applicability within Municipality (City) boundaries 

Both Chapter 77, Article II, and Chapter 78 are countywide codes which means they are applicable to all properties within incorporated and unincorporated Alachua County. However, where municipalities have specific wetland, surface water, and buffer requirements or natural resources requirements that may exceed the criteria associated with countywide codes, the County will recognize the more restrictive criteria. 

What if I live in unincorporated Alachua County (outside of any city limits)?

Alachua County's existing protection requirements for wetlands, surface waters and buffers as well as natural resources (significant habitat, listed species habitat, strateg​ic ecosystems and significant geologic features) within unincorporated properties remain in place, along with the current project review requirements. These forms only apply to properties within municipalities. If you have questions regarding wetland or natural resources protection requirements for parcels within unincorporated Alachua County, please contact staff at 352-264-6800.

What are the Countywide Wetland and Natural Resources Protection requirements?


The code states that “no development activity shall occur in, on or over a surface water or wetland area or buffer, and no development activity shall occur adjacent to or connected to a surface water or wetland area such that the water quality is in violation of the standards of this Chapter or the water regime is modified in a way that precludes the area in question from maintaining the surface water or hydroperiod necessary to sustain wetland structure and function equivalent to predevelopment levels.”  What this means is that wetlands, surface waters and their buffers are protected from clearing and other activities, and no alteration (see definition below) shall occur without prior authorization by the county. 

Alteration means any dredging, filling, excavation, construction of new structures, expansion of existing structures, installation of utilities, roads, personal wireless service facilities, stormwater management systems, septic tanks, bulkheading, land clearing, tree cutting, mechanized vegetation removal and the disposal of solid or liquid waste. The following table summarizes the average and minimum buffer requirements:

Surface Water & Wetlands
Buffer Distance (feet)*
Surface waters and wetlands less than or equal to 0.5 acre that do not include Outstanding Florida Waters or listed animal species as described elsewhere in this table.
  50 average,
  35 minimum
 Surface waters and wetlands greater than 0.5 acre that do not include Outstanding Florida Waters or listed animal species as described elsewhere in this table.
   75 average,
  50 minimum
Areas where federally and/or state regulated vertebrate wetland/aquatic dependent animal species have been documented within 300 feet of a surface water or wetland.
  100 average, 
  75 minimum
Outstanding Florida Waters (OFW)
  150 average,
  100 minimum

*If the buffer precludes all economically viable use of a particular property, alteration activities may be allowed in the buffer in accordance with Section 77.20.

Natural Resources

Significant Habitat or Listed Species Habitat: 25% of the upland portion of a planning parcel containing significant habitat or listed species habitat must remain unaltered

Strategic Ecosystems: 50% of the upland portion of a planning parcel located within strategic ecosystems (subject to ground truthing) must remain unaltered

Significant geologic features cannot be impacted, with buffers ranging from 25 ft to 150 ft, depending on the feature type and location.

Protected Resources
Buffer Distance (feet)*
  75 average,
  50 minimum
Springs, quarries, karst window or other karst features with a direct connection to the Floridan aquifer;

Significant geologic features located within Outstanding Florida Springs Priority Focus Areas (PFAs); and

  150 average,
  100 minimum
All other significant features
  25 minimum

*Exceptions can be approved by staff based on legal lot of record size and health and safety, in accordance with Section 78.20. 

How do I comply with the Countywide Wetland and Natural Resources Protection Codes?

Prior to alterations to your property/parcel, you shall submit one of the following forms through the Application Portal​ to verify compliance with wetland and natural resources requirements:

  1. Self-certification Form – Submit this form to self-certify that the proposed activity complies with the surface water, wetland, and buffer protection requirements outlined in Chapter 77, Article II, and Chapter 78 of the Alachua County Code, or is exempt under Sec. 77.21 and Sec. 78.05.
  2. Verification Request Form – If you are unsure whether your proposed work complies with the countywide wetlands and natural resources protection requirements, submit this form to request verification from county staff. You will receive a response within 10 days of submittal and determine if additional information or actions are necessary to comply with the codes or qualify for an exemption, at which time a Self-certification Form may be required. If the requested activity does not meet the terms and conditions of the codes, an Application Form will be required.
  3. Application Form - Submit this form if your proposed activities do not comply with protection requirements found in Chapter 77, Article II​, and Chapter 78, nor any of the listed exemptions in Section 77.21 and Section 78.05, and are requesting to impact wetland and/or surface waters or their buffers or do not meet the protection requirements for countywide natural resources. It is recommended that you discuss mitigation requirements with the County’s Environmental Protection Department prior to submitting this application. If you have a mitigation proposal, you may include it with your application submittal. If all practicable modifications have been made to reduce or eliminate adverse impacts to Countywide wetlands, other surface waters, and buffers (Chapter 77), and/or to natural resources (Chapter 78), and adverse impacts are still proposed, mitigation may be required. Mitigation proposals for Countywide surface waters, wetlands, associated buffers, and natural resources, however, shall not be considered or discussed until it is determined that all practicable alternatives to impacts have been explored.  Final Alachua County BOCC approval of the proposed Countywide wetland impacts and Mitigation and Monitoring Plan, and if applicable,  approval of impacts to or alternative protection standards for Countywide natural resources must be secured prior to initiating the activity within wetlands, other surface waters, associated buffers and natural resources.

What is the cost or fee to submit an application?
Currently, there is no application fee associated with this process. Visit the Application Portal​​ to submit your application.

Phone: 352-264-6800 or ​​​​​