Article Index

 

 

Monitoring and Assessment

Mapping /Inventory

  • Florida has not produced a statewide map of the wetlands, as they would be delineated using the state methodology in s. 373.421 and 373.4211, F.S. Instead, as discussed above, wetlands are delineated on an “as requested” basis. Although maps of wetlands in Florida have been prepared by the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI), such maps are typically not at a level of detail that is sufficient for state and federal permitting purposes; the maps are subject to ground truthing; and the maps are not binding on either the state or the Corps. Nonetheless, they may provide a general picture of the potential presence of wetlands on a parcel of property.
  • Because such maps have not been produced using the state methodology, there is no current statewide status and trends report of wetland gains or losses, based on Florida’s wetland delineation methodology. However, historic data is available (see below).
  • Through a specialized GIS called ERAtools (Environmental Resource Analysis tools), staff has access to NWI maps and numerous other data sources, including jurisdictional boundaries, land use, fish and wildlife resources, inter-agency permitted activities, water resources, and statewide aerial photographs.

Wetland Classification and Assessment

  • Florida does not use a wetland classification system. The “status” of wetlands, and the functions they provide, are determined on a project-by-project basis through the permit application review process.

Overall Wetland Gain and Loss Tracking System

  • The DEP and the water management districts track the acreage of wetlands permitted to be dredged, filled, and mitigated through their permit application tracking systems. Annual wetland status reports were prepared and submitted to Florida’s Legislature for the period 1986-1993, during which time a statewide reporting requirement was part of state law. During the period 1984 – 1995, the DEP authorized the following acreage of wetland impacts:
Category Acreage
Permanently destroyed 7,476
Temporarily destroyed 10,071
Preserved 22,195
Created 39,131
Improved 204,895 (due to accounting errors this figure actually 33may only be  
28,584)
  • The above figures do not account for wetland acreage permitted by the water management districts during that period. Due to limitations on staff resources, statewide report on these figures has not been produced since 1993 (when the requirement for these reports was removed from state law). However, reports can be produced on request by the DEP and water management districts.
  • When reviewing the above, it is important to realize that such figures do not account for the true status of Florida's wetland acreage. This is because those status and trends reports, based on permitting data, did not:
    • account for wetland losses from exempt activities (for which work may occur without notice to the agencies) or activities qualifying for noticed general permits. This is particularly significant considering wetland losses from exempt agricultural activities;
    • account for unauthorized dredging and filling;
    • account for whether the dredging, filling, or mitigation, once permitted, was ever implemented; or
    • account for the success or degree of implementation of any permitted mitigation.
  • It is also important to realize that even if such tracking reports did account for the above, they would not account for the gains or losses of wetland functions. They do not, for example, provide status and trends for: 
    • wetland acreage degraded by exotic infestation,
    • wetland acreage degraded by drainage or impoundment, or
    • wetland acreage restored or in need or restoration.

Staffing (Monitoring and Assessment Staff.)

There is no staff specifically funded to track wetland gains and losses. As stated above, such tracking is done by the same staff that review wetland resource and environmental resource permit applications.