Title: The Origin and Evolution of the Safe Upland Line
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00001886/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Origin and Evolution of the Safe Upland Line
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: The Origin and Evolution of the Safe Upland Line
General Note: Box 9, Folder 10 ( SF- Safe Upland Line - 1967 and 1992 ), Item 7
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00001886
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text


A new term has crept into Florida's regulatory arena and is taking a mighty swipe at
private property. The term is "Safe Upland Line." With no legislative authorization, it is being
used today by state agency and water mngement district officials as an arbitrary line to mark
the boundary between state-own submerged lines and privately owned property. The
government groups then use the ine to justify less than a fall market price offer for the purchase
of land to be used for conservation and preservation purposes under the Save Our Rivers

Where Did The Term Come From?

The term originated with the Department of Natural Resources as a mechanism to ensure
that the State collect full lease fees and to save money for applicants seeking permits to use state-
owned submerged lands. According to Kirby Green, he coined the term in 1983 while working
as Chief of the DNR Bureua of Survey & Mapping.

As Green explains, the Bureau was reviewing all survey information presented on
applications for use of submerged lands. The application for use of submerged lands requires
a statement of the location of the ordinary high water line or the mean high water line. Often,
Green said, the easements were presented as approximatios or estimates. The amount of
lease fee charge was determined using the OHWL or MHWL masrement to calculate the total
acreage to be used. Since the measrements were used to calculate the amount of acreage to
used, the Bureau asked for an exact rather than an approximate figure.

Surveyors hired by the applicant to provide the survey information required on the
application complained that the cost of performing a survey to obtain a more exact measurement
would be too expensive for the applicant. As a compromise to allow the applicant to obtain a
use permit without having the bear the expense of a full survey, Green recalls, the bureau
allowed surveyors to locate a line "safely upland" from the OHWL or MHWL. The applicant
and the DNR agreed to calculate the lease fee based on the acreage below the line "safely
upland" from the OHWL or MHWL. Thus, the term "Safe Upland Line" was born.


The Safe Upland Line was next used in the Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL)
program. Under CARL, the State purchased land from private owners to create parks and to
restore and protect environmental endangered areas. Often the land to be purchased was
adjacent to state-owned submerged lands. The state c ra with surveyors to determine
where the Safe Upland Line occurred defining the boundary of the land the state was willing to
purchase. The state agreed to reimburse owners who wanted to contract for their own surveys
and prove the exact boundary at the OHWL or MHWL. However, the state agreed only to
reimburse the owner the cost of performing an safe upland line survey. The question, Kirby
explains, then became one of economics: was the value of the property between the safe upland
line and the potential OHWL greater than the difference in the cost of an OHWL survey and a
safe upland line survey.



This is to outline a procedure for determining a safe upland line
on nontidal lakes and rivers for the purpose of area computations
of submerged land leases and easements. The SUL determined by this
procedure is not to be considered a sovereignty submerged land
boundary and will not be recognized by the Department for use in
controlling future development or for any other use or purpose
unless specifically stated otherwise by the Department. The
typical procedure for establishing the elevation of a SUL follows:

(1) The SUL is generally based on the ground elevation of
mature upland plant communities. Upland communities must be of
Sufficient age to indicate a preregulation SUL if man-made water
control structures control water levels.

(2). Soil and hydrologic information may be used to supplement
the SUL determination in some cases. (See Sections 18-22.204 and

(3) 'In some cases the Bureau of Survey and Mapping will have
sufficient information on the subject waterbody to determine the
SUL elevation without additional field work.

(4) The safe upland line is considered a continuous contour
approximated by bearings and distances included in a closed
traverse around a submerged lease or easement area.

Pertinent information and notes indicating the methodology used to
determine the SUL must be included as part of the survey drawing.
Also, the location of the upland vegetation and/or upland soils
sample area used to determine the SUL should be noted.

The above is intended to be general guidelines. Every lakeand
river has its own individual characteristics and procedures will

Comments may be directed to:

Department of Natural Resources
Bureau of Survey and Mapping
Mail Station 105
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Phone: 904/488-2427

lRvised 12/92 7
Revised 7/92 7

1 :1 H1


There are two types of water boundaries that delineate sovereignty

submerged lands. In tidally influenced waters, the mean high water

line (MHWL) is the boundary, and in non-tidally influenced waters,

the ordinary high water line (OHWL) is the boundary.

A safe upland line (SUL) is at or above the OHWL or MHWL elevation

and is used where a more accurate (and more costly) delineation of

the water boundary would not result in a benefit to the applicant

or to the state. (For example, in situations where all of the

preempted area is to be leased, the location of the water boundary

is not a factor in the lease fee calculation.)

(a) Tidal Waterbodies The boundary line is to be located will be

one of the following:

1. A MHWL based on an actual tide study or an elevation

provided by DNR and surveyed as a contour line. The

procedures for establishing the MHWL elevation are

administered by DNR pursuant to Chapter 177, Part II,

Florida Statutes.

2. A SUL based on an elevation provided by DNR as being

safely above the approximate aectua elevation of MHW and

surveyed as a contour line. The legal land description

fr- a pa.r1 ,Ae by this lijl* must be preceded

leader containing "That part of the sovereignty lands of

the State of Florida that lie within the following

described area:".

Revised 12/921
Revised 7/92 8


ITT f l ir Fib ii N IhI

J b) IMlhgiI r: The bcaumdsy line to be
: loceat will be one of the follving:

1. An eWL if established by judicial -decision or boundary

A. A mX b i oft*' the roflwrinJqg A.Meoat of

vatet lea raabd rig the Oip atn *seina the

waterward extent of nMturAe afla v .getation; the

landward extend of etland vegetation; water marks on

tree or thbe* objects that rteflect hi4 Water stages;

"ad eamisis of hydrologti datp; or soil analysis that

ref lets high vater istges; or *.te*r indiLations of the

reach of vatr during the hip we.r Vfl 0 P. The method

for dattertinina the suP should be clearly noted on the

jhe fdiw aS at .. *tat4 hiasit lie

Ceatest th6 aMrean of survery ad Xqppas, sneO omM alth

mterare, fUti Fttaion oS, Tallahabee, Florida 3sts, teebhone

(904)488-2427, prior to beginning survey field work.

-~ 1-*

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