BUNNELL, FL – Saw Palmetto berries may be tempting to pick, but county ordinance forbids it on county-owned lands. An approved Request for Permit to Harvest issued by FDACS/DPI is required to harvest saw palmetto berries in Florida on privately owned land, even on a person’s own property.

“We have received a lot of complaints from citizens over the years of trespassing, usually during this time of year between August and November, when the berries are ripe and ready for picking,” said Sheriff Rick Staly. “If you don’t have permission from the property owner and a permit – don’t do it. Otherwise, you could be arrested.”

“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,” said Flagler County Public Lands and Natural Resource Manager Mike Lagasse. “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. “Berry pickers are working in hazardous conditions, damaging our parks, and interrupting food sources for our native wildlife.”

Palmetto berry harvesting has been problematic for private property owners and for the county’s many natural areas including MalaCompra Park, River-to-Sea Preserve, and Varn Park in northeastern Flagler County. Other areas of concern include Haw Creek Preserve, Princess Place Preserve, Shell Bluff, and Betty Steflik Preserve.

Those who suspect someone is harvesting palmetto berries on county-owned property are asked to report it to Lagasse at 386-313-4064 or call the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number, 386-313-4911.