The Perdido Key HCP: A Friend To Endangered Species

Are you thinking about moving to Perdido Key? Good move! Life on our beaches is full of picturesque views, a tropical and laid-back lifestyle that promotes relaxation, and studies even suggest that oceanside living is good for your health (which is way easier than aerobics class). 

That’s why Perdido Key has over 30,000 people who call the island home and take advantage of all of the seaside benefits that it has to offer. But it’s not just people - Perdido Key is home to some endangered animals that also rely on its unique environment to thrive. These include the Perdido Key beach mouse, various sea turtles, and the piping plover shore bird. These unique animals are beach lovers just like us, and they don’t want to lose their coastal homes any more than we do. Which is why we have to share the space. 

Blue Heron walking on Perdido Key sand dune

Perdido Key believes that all beach lovers should be able to enjoy them for years to come - and that includes our animal friends! That’s why conservation is at the heart of the Perdido Key lifestyle. In an effort to ensure the protection of the local species and ecosystems, Escambia County has set forth a series of guidelines for the island that aim to minimize their disruption - it’s called a Habitat Conservation Plan, and it regulates the use and management of land as well as new construction guidelines.

If you’re thinking about setting up shop or home in Perdido Key, you’ll need to know all about it. Let’s take a look at it more closely.

What is an Incidental Take Permit? 

This permit, issued under the Endangered Species Act, gives you permission to build in a protected area under specific conditions. It essentially waives your liability for actions that result in the accidental “taking” of endangered species or habitats. Under the ESA, “taking” is a broad term that prohibits any number of actions that result in undue harm to a protected species or habitat. Should you choose not to apply for an Incidental Take Permit if it’s required, you’re looking at a federal offense (and some bad karma).

What is a Habitat Conservation Plan?

In the simplest of terms, a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) explains what actions you’ll take before, during, and after construction to make sure you don’t cause undue harm to protected species or ecosystems. An approved plan is required to receive the necessary Incidental Take Permit to build and reside in certain protected areas (like Perdido Key). For most areas it takes a great deal of work and time to construct and submit an HCP. 

How Is Perdido Key Different? 

The leaders of Perdido Key knew there was a better way. We aren’t all biologists! Creating a successful HCP can be expensive and time-consuming, especially if you aren’t familiar with the science behind it. Plus, it can take up to a year (or more) to obtain your permit through the government. That’s a long time to wait if you’re building your dream beach house!

Which is why Perdido Key partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Department - they usually issue the permits - to develop the Perdido Key HCP, which applies to all new construction on the island. This way, Perdido Key can issue its own permits on the island as long as you agree to follow the plan. Adherence to the HCP means that you’ll avoid having to draft your own plan and can receive your permit much faster than you traditionally would - usually in just a matter of months. 

What Does The Plan Say? 

The Perdido Key HCP establishes an island-wide set of rules and regulations in regards to construction and land management. First, the plan details the ways that protected species may be harmed or impacted. Then, it sets forth plans and policies that aim to lessen these impacts by defining harmful activities (such as using clay in building materials) and setting clear standards for land use and management (such as the proper installation of beachfront lighting or the maintenance of beach barriers to prevent erosion). There is also an in-depth explanation of the application process for an Incidental Take Permit on Perdido Key.

If you want more information, you can download the entire Perdido Key Habitat Conservation Plan.

How Do I Start?

Visit the Escambia County website to learn more and start the application process. 

If you aren’t ready to commit to a lifetime in Perdido Key, let us convince you! Come for a quick or a long stay in one of our beautiful Perdido Key vacation rentals, all of which abide by the HCP to do their part in protecting the local wildlife. You might even get to make friends with a sea turtle!

Posted by Kathy Justice on


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