What are Sand Skinks?
Sand skinks are small lizards that live beneath the surface in the sandy soil in the central ridges of Florida. Sand skinks live in the parts of Florida that have higher elevation. Sand skinks are a protected species because they only exist in the sandy Florida habitat and nowhere else on the planet. Many scientists argue that sand skinks should be removed from the protection list, sighting a study that found that sand skinks exist in sandy soils in more habitats than were originally thought.
There are three criteria for determining the presence of sand skinks:
If sand skinks are discovered on your property, there are a number of steps that need to be taken in compliance with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS.) For every sighting of sand skinks, an 80-foot buffer must be made to the property around the place of discovery. If the buffer is not made, the landowner will be required to purchase 2 credits from a conservation bank. Each credit costs $25,000 which means that occupying land containing sand skinks can cost a landowner $50,000 per acre. It is essential for those buying land in Florida to be aware of this financial and environmental risk.
Land can be made less habitable for sand skinks. Limiting the amount of sandy soil on a property can lessen the chances of sand skink presence. For instance, instead of leaving sandy soil between orange groves, it would be helpful to have grass growing between them.
In order to disprove the presence of sand skinks on a property that meets the three criteria, landowners must conduct a formal coverboard survey lasting 7 weeks. This survey involves putting 40 2x2 boards over an acre of property and checking under those boards for a sign of sand skinks.
For those considering purchasing Florida land in the Central regions, sand skink presence should be heavily considered. In this video, Richard Dempsey, of Saunders Real Estate, sits down with Elaine Imbruglia, President of Modica & Associates, to discuss how to deal with sand skinks.
Elaine has 24 years of experience in ecological consulting and scientific studies. She has worked for the private, public and non-profit sectors. Imbruglia specializes in comprehensive environmental planning and strategic site design for large-scale projects.
Richard Dempsey, ALC, is a licensed real estate associate specializing in all types of agricultural land, citrus groves, large acreage tracts, ranches, hunting/recreational tracts, and commercial/development land. He has been associated with SVN Saunders Real Estate since 2000. Learn more about Richard.
Do you have a question for Elaine about sand skinks?