Court allows nonprofit group to intervene in customary use complaint

CUSTOMARY RECREATIONAL USE of the beach by the public has been a matter of attention for Walton County Circuit Court for a number of months, with Walton County having filed a court complaint for declaration of recreational customary use of the beach in December 2018 and with hundreds of individuals, organizations and associations filing motions and requests to intervene in the matter.


The Santa Rosa Beach-based nonprofit Florida Beaches for All (FBFA) will be allowed to intervene in support of Walton County in the county’s complaint for declaration of recreational customary use of the beach, which is ongoing in Walton County Circuit Court.

Presiding Judge David Green issued an April 16 order stating that FBFA “is permitted to intervene in this action,” referring to Walton County’s complaint filed in December 2018.

The decision allows FBFA to become a lawsuit party in support of the Walton County’s filing to affirm “existence of recreational customary use on 1,194 private properties located in Walton County, Florida,” as the county complaint reads.

The order came five days after a court hearing at which arguments for and against FBFA’s motion to intervene were heard. Addressing the court on April 11, Stephen Turner, an attorney representing FBFA, told the court,” We’re here on this issue because we stand to win or lose.”

Created in summer 2018, FBFA is devoted to preserving and perpetuating the doctrine of customary use of the beach in Florida and nationwide.

“The court has considered the motion and the argument of counsel and finds that Florida Beaches for All has demonstrated an interest in these proceeds sufficient to require that it be allowed to intervene,” Judge Green wrote in the April 16 order.

FBFA’s motion to intervene had been filed in February 2019 by Santa Rosa Beach attorney Daniel Uhlfelder.

Contacted on April 18, Uhlfelder said FBFA was pleased with the order. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to do what we can to preserve customary use. It really is the lifeblood of this area,” he commented.

Uhlfelder said the nonprofit was currently engaged in letting members know about the order allowing FBFA to intervene and would be evaluating what steps to take next.

Judge Green’s order specifies that FBFA’s intervention, “shall be subject to such conditions as may be imposed by the court at a later case management conference.”

On the topic of conditions, Uhlfelder repeated that FBFA was happy to be included, adding that the group would like to participate to the greatest extent possible based on conditions set by the court.

No date has been set for the case management conference at this time.