Gopher Tortoise Mitigation Contributions
What are Mitigation Contributions?
Mitigation contributions are financial contributions used to offset impacts to tortoises and their burrows from permitted development activities. A mitigation contribution is required for all relocation permits. These contributions are paid prior to the issuance of a permit.
Mitigation contributions are separate from other costs associated with off-site relocation of tortoises such as Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent hiring fees and relocation costs charged by recipient sites. These other costs are not paid to, nor regulated by the FWC.
What happens to the mitigation contribution funds?
Mitigation contributions are deposited in a trust that is managed by the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida. Mitigation contributions are used to support gopher tortoise conservation actions from the FWC’s Gopher Tortoise Management Plan. Examples include funding habitat improvement and restoration projects, funding education materials used throughout the state, funding of scientific and educational projects to support gopher tortoise conservation in Florida and funding staff and resources for the agency’s Gopher Tortoise Program.
What are recipient site tiers?
Mitigation amounts are based on the conservation value provided by a recipient site. Recipient site tiers were added in the 2023 Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines Revision to incentivize the permitted relocation of gopher tortoises to areas with higher conservation value for tortoises. Tiers are categorized by the length of conservation protections or by the habitat quality and level of monitoring at the recipient site. Tier 1 recipient sites have the highest conservation value for both short-term and long-term recipient sites. Please see the Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines for more information on recipient site tiers.
How much are mitigation contributions?
The required mitigation contribution varies based on the specific circumstances of each tortoise relocation permit. Permit type, number of tortoises needing to be relocated, and the protection level (including duration and tier) of the chosen recipient site(s) all influence the required mitigation contribution amount. The higher the conservation value of the recipient site chosen to relocate tortoises to, the lower the required mitigation contribution required for the donor site permittee. Mitigation contributions are highest to relocate tortoises to Tier 3 Short-Term Protected Recipient Sites, while they are lowest at Tier 1 Long-Term Protected Recipient Sites.
A full list of current mitigation contributions is available in the current Gopher Tortoise Mitigation Table. This table is adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index.
What if the number of tortoises relocated ends up being less than I paid for in mitigation contributions?
The number of tortoises permitted for relocation is estimated based on the number of burrows found during a survey. Permittees may be eligible for a Mitigation Contribution refund if the actual number of gopher tortoises relocated was less than the number permitted based on estimates. Refund requests will be processed only after the final after-action report is submitted by the permittee and accepted by the FWC.
To receive a refund, a refund request form must be submitted to the FWC within 60 days of the date the final after-action report is accepted. Forms submitted more than 60 days after FWC acceptance of the final after action report will not be eligible for a refund.
If the incorrect form is submitted, you will be notified by the FWC and asked to submit the correct request form. Choose the correct form based on which CPI-adjusted mitigation date your permit invoice was calculated.