(information last updated January 2019)

Ongoing Projects:

Federal Project(s) Operating in the State:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides grants to help fund the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project. See Florida Microplastic Awareness Project, U. of Fla. IFAS Extension, http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/flagler/marine-and-coastal/microplastics/ (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). This project enlists volunteers to collect and filter coastal water samples to identify microplastics in the water. See id. The University of Florida IFAS Extension also has other water-monitoring projects, such as the Florida Keys Water Watch. See Florida Sea Grant, U. of Fla. IFAS Extension, https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/monroe/florida-sea-grant-program---monroe-county/ (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). 


WeDigFLPlants, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, “is a collaboration between professional research botanists, amateur naturalists, gardeners, educators, and citizen scientists to build the most complete picture possible of plant distribution and diversity in Florida over the past 200 years.” WeDigFLPlants, CitizenScience.gov, https://www.citizenscience.gov/catalog/359/# (last visited Feb. 7, 2019); see also WeDigFLPlants, BIOSPEX, https://biospex.org/project/wedigflplants (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

State Project(s):

A regional office of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) has partnered with local volunteer groups to create the Charlotte Harbor Estuaries Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network, which trains volunteers on data collection protocols, and sends them out to monitor water quality once a month.  See Charlotte Harbor Estuaries Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network, Fla. Dep’t of Envtl. Protection, https://floridadep.gov/fco/aquatic-preserve/content/charlotte-harbor-estuaries-volunteer-water-quality-monitoring-network (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hosts a variety of wildlife observation citizen science projects. See What Opportunities Are In Your Area?, Volunteer, Fla. Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, http://myfwc.com/get-involved/volunteer/# (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). Examples of these efforts include the Gopher Tortoise survey project and Rare Bird Registry. See Sightings, Fla. Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, https://myfwc.com/get-involved/volunteer/citizen-science/sightings/ (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Collection of Information:

Scientific Collection Permit:

A permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is required to take or possess wildlife or freshwater fish or their nests or eggs for scientific purposes. See Fla. Admin. Code r. 68A-9.002(1); Scientific Collecting and Educational Possession, Protected Wildlife Permits, Fla. Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, https://myfwc.com/license/wildlife/protected-wildlife-permits/ (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Other Provisions:

See infra “Drone Laws.”

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No. A person commits trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance only when “notice against entering or remaining is given, either by actual communication to the offender or by posting, fencing, or cultivation.” Fla. Stat. § 810.09(1)(a)(1).

Trespass on Agricultural Property:

Trespass against “commercial horticulture property,” an “agricultural site for testing or research purposes,” or an “agricultural chemicals manufacturing facility” is a felony of the third degree.  Fla. Stat. § 810.09(2)(e)–(f), (i).

Drone Laws:

Surveillance Law:

“A person, a state agency, or a political subdivision . . . may not use a drone equipped with an imaging device to record an image of privately owned real property . . . with the intent to conduct surveillance on the . . . property captured in the image in violation of such person’s reasonable expectation of privacy without his or her written consent.  For purposes of this section, a person is presumed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy on his or her privately owned real property if he or she is not observable by persons located at ground level in a place where they have a legal right to be, regardless of whether he or she is observable from the air with the use of a drone.”  Fla. Stat. § 934.50(3)(b).


Punitive and compensatory civil damages may be sought by the victim against the individual who violated subsection (3)(b). Id. § 934.50(5).


“This section does not prohibit the use of a drone…(d) By a person or an entity engaged in a business or profession licensed by the state, or by an agent, employee, or contractor thereof, if the drone is used only to perform reasonable tasks within the scope of practice or activities permitted under such person’s or entity’s license…;  . . . (f) To capture images by or for an electric, water, or natural gas utility . . . for conducting environmental monitoring, as provided by federal, state, or local law, rule, or permit; … [or] (g) For aerial mapping, if the person or entity using a drone for this purpose is operating in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.”  Fla. Stat. § 934.50(4).


“This subsection does not limit the authority of a local government to enact or enforce local ordinances relating to nuisances, voyeurism, harassment, reckless endangerment, property damage, or other illegal acts arising from the use of unmanned aircraft systems if such laws or ordinances are not specifically related to the use of an unmanned aircraft system for those illegal acts.” Fla. Stat. § 330.41(3)(c).

State Parks:

Drones are prohibited to land on and/or take off from any state park property.

Other Provisions:

See infra “Critical Infrastructure Laws.”

Critical Infrastructure Laws:

Drone Law:

“A person may not knowingly or willfully:

1. Operate a drone over a critical infrastructure facility;

2. Allow a drone to make contact with a critical infrastructure facility, including any person or object on the premises of or within the facility; or

3. Allow a drone to come within a distance of a critical infrastructure facility that is close enough to interfere with the operations of or cause a disturbance to the facility.” Fla. Stat. § 330.41(4)(a).


A violation of this section constitutes a misdemeanor of the second degree, id. § 330.41(4)(b), punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 15 years, id. § 775.082(3)(d), and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000, id. § 775.083(1)(b).


“‘Critical infrastructure facility’ means any of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if clearly marked with a sign or signs which indicate that entry is forbidden and which are posted on the property in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders:

1. An electrical power generation or transmission facility, substation, switching station, or electrical control center.

2. A chemical or rubber manufacturing or storage facility.

3. A mining facility.

4. A natural gas or compressed gas compressor station, storage facility, or natural gas or compressed gas pipeline.

5. A liquid natural gas or propane gas terminal or storage facility with a capacity of 4,000 gallons or more.

6. Any portion of an aboveground oil or gas pipeline.

7. A wireless communications facility, including the tower, antennae, support structures, and all associated ground-based equipment.” Id. § 330.41(2)(a).

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

“A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking[.]”  Fla. Stat. § 784.048(2).

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, this provision could be construed to prohibit the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Prohibits:

“Evidence obtained or collected in violation of this act [which prohibits the recording of images of private property by a drone without written consent] is not admissible as evidence in a criminal prosecution in any court of law in this state.”  Fla. Stat. § 934.50(6).

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires a description of “the ultimate facts showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”  Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.110(b).

Authentication or Chain of Custody:


“Authentication or identification of evidence is required as a condition precedent to its admissibility. The requirements of this section are satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.”  Fla. Stat. § 90.901.

Expert Testimony:

Frye standard. See DeLisle v. Crane Co., No. SC16-2182, 2018 WL 5075302, at *8 (Fla. Oct. 15, 2018) (“With our decision today, we reaffirm that Frye, not Daubert, is the appropriate test in Florida courts.”).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.