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SoWal Guide
Staff member
Nov 15, 2004
South Walton, FL


Walton County to begin work on a tree protection ordinance​

November 3, 2021 Quinton



Work is to begin soon to get a tree protection ordinance in place in Walton County.

At the Oct. 26 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regular meeting at the South Walton Annex, the commissioners voted to approve a citizen request for staff to begin work on the ordinance in conjunction with public input meetings.

While there had been a number attempts to create a tree protection ordinance in the past, over decades, a recent incident involving the cutting down of 100-year-old live oak trees in Seagrove has spurred a renewed effort toward such an ordinance.
In May, the trees were downed by a developer at the former location of the 723 Whiskey Bravo and Cowgirl Kitchen restaurants east of Gardenia Street in Seagrove in connection with clearing activity. It was determined by Walton County Code Compliance that the site had been cleared without required county permits.

At the Oct. 26 BCC meeting, south Walton County citizen Leigh Moore addressed the commissioners on behalf of a group of nonprofits and concerned citizens who since the Seagrove incident had come together to ask the county to take action to preserve the remaining historic trees in Walton County communities. The organizations, she explained, include Scenic Walton and South Walton Community Council (SWCC).

Moore’s request was for the BCC to direct Walton County Planning and Development Services to bring a stakeholder group together for input and then draft an ordinance that would add language to the Walton County Land Development Code (LDC) providing stronger protection for trees. An additional request was for implementation through the ordinance of a mitigation program for trees over a certain size when they are removed in order for the tree canopy to be replenished.

Moore said the group understood that there may be land use categories in certain areas of the county for which provisions of the ordinance may not be appropriate.

“We’re well aware,” she concluded, of past, present and future and the trees that we’ve already lost. We just want to stop the loss and mitigate it any way possible.” She offered the help of the committee with the task.

“I think that this is a big issue,” said District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson, “and I agree with you, we need to protect our trees.”

He moved to have planning staff hold public meetings to gather input tree protection and work with Moore as a representative of the committee to draft the measure. The motion was approved unanimously.

Once drafted, the ordinance will undergo review by the county and a final decision by the BCC.


Jim Tucker

Beach Fanatic
Jul 12, 2005
Thank you I am all for protecting trees.

30A Skunkape

Mr. Small Box
Jan 18, 2006
Backatown Seagrove
I hope they protect cypress trees with a certain minimum trunk base circumference. That should help slow down wetland tree destruction too.

Matt J

May 9, 2007
If it doesn't have a meaningful penalty it'll never stick.

Unfortunately counties can only penalize up to $500 so if you want a tree gone and you've got $500...

South Walton Community Council

Community Organization
Jan 17, 2007
Tree Protection Focus Group

November 18, 2021 10:30am
South Walton Annex

Meeting Rules: This meeting is a focus group meeting that is open to the public. Focus group members will be guided through the questions below and discuss each item. General comments from the attending public will be accepted in written form only. The public can attend the meeting via Zoom using the provided link.

Meeting Location and Date:
South Walton Annex
31 Coastal Centre Boulevard
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
November 18, 2021 10:30 AM-12:30 PM

Type of Meeting: Walton County Tree Protection Focus Group

Meeting Facilitators:
Kristen A. Shell, AICP
Hailey Bowler, Environmental Planner

Leigh Moore, Barbara Morano, Curtis Smith, Mary Niehaus, Melinda Gates, Chance Powell, Scott Caraway, Scott Rosenheim, Glen Miley, Bethany Womack, Brad Davis, Alicia Coon-Hicks, Jonathan Hampel

I. Introductions
II. What Current Tree Protection Regulations are in Effect?
III. Open issues
a) Would improvements to current process and internal review procedures have prevented the loss of trees at the Whiskey Bravo site?
b) Would changes or expansions to the current native community protection requirement be more effective than a new regulatory scheme?
IV. Exploration Issues
a) Should Walton County require tree protection on existing residential lots (vested or grandfathered)?
b) Should heritage or large caliper/spread trees be protected? What species?
c) Should there be increased penalties or fines for illegal clearing or removal?
V. Exit Question
a) Please provide any additional information or comments that you think will aid Walton County in updating the Land Development Code pertaining to tree protection.

Zoom information:


Or by Telephone:
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 929 205 6099 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782

Webinar ID: 844 3274 4041
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