In celebration of May as American Wetlands Month, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection recognizes the important role Florida’s wetlands play in Florida’s complex and unique ecosystem.
Florida wetlands are areas that are saturated by surface water or ground water consisting primarily of hydric soil, which supports aquatic plants and provide a habitat for a variety of diverse species. Florida wetlands include swamps, marshes, bogs, cypress domes and strands, wet prairies, mangrove swamps and other similar areas. These are the transitional zones between land and water that take on distinct characteristics as an ecosystem.
Florida wetlands are beneficial to the state’s environment for a multitude of reasons. Wetlands naturally retain the excess nitrates, ammonium, phosphorus and sediment, acting as a filter for the water that flows through them and aiding in downstream water quality. Wetlands also act as natural buffers to floods as they slow water flow and can absorb significant amounts of water.
The Department is responsible for regulating Florida’s wetlands. This includes evaluating and delineating wetland areas in Florida, as well as restoration and protection. There are two wetlands regulatory programs exist at the state level; a dredge and fill permit program, which is within the limits of the Northwest Water Management District and an environmental resource permit program throughout the rest of the state.
May was designated “American Wetlands Month” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its federal, state, tribal, local, non-profit and private sector partners in 1991 to celebrate the vital role of wetlands to the Nation’s ecological, economic, and social health and to educate Americans about the value of wetlands as a natural resource. The Department encourages Florida residents and visitors to learn about wetlands and to explore a wetland in your area, not only in the month of May but throughout the year.
To find out more about the EPA’s American Wetlands Month click here.
For more information on the Department’s wetlands programs click here.