Forbidden fruit: Stop picking palmetto berries on Flagler County public property

Flagler County officials have a reminder for those in Florida looking to pick up some free palmetto berries — don’t.

Palmetto berries on Flagler County public lands might be tempting to pick, but county ordinance forbids it, according to the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners.

“The word is out that there is no palmetto berry picking allowed on county-owned lands,” Mike Lagasse, Flagler County Public Lands and Natural Resource Manager, said. “The FCSO arrested several trespassers who were picking palmetto berries at county parks back on August 1, and then this morning our caretaker at River to Sea walked outside and saw several guys with berry-picking apparatus. They took off and left their gear when they saw him. While some private property owners allow the harvesting of the berries with permission, picking palmetto berries is not allowed on Flagler County owned or managed preserves and parks.”

Flagler County ordinance also prohibits the removal of soil, rock, sand, stones, trees, shrubs, plants, or wood materials, the board said.

Violators can expect to pay a penalty of up to $500.

“Palmetto berry harvesting activities reduce the amount of food available for wildlife and can create unwanted trails and debris on our public lands,” Lagasse said. “These berry pickers are working in hazardous conditions, damaging our parks, and interrupting food sources for our native wildlife. Out-of-county private companies profit off it. Also, keep in mind Gopher tortoises are a threatened wildlife species and are protected by state law.”

To report someone harvesting palmetto berries on county-owned property, call 386-313-4064 or call the Flagler County Sheriff’s non-emergency number, 386-313-4911.

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