An overview of peat in Florida and related issues ( FGS: Special publication 27 )


Material Information

An overview of peat in Florida and related issues ( FGS: Special publication 27 )
Series Title:
Special publication - Florida Geological Society ; 27
Physical Description:
viii, 151 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Bond, Paulette
Campbell, Kenneth M ( Kenneth Mark ), 1949-
Scott, Thomas M
unknown ( endowment ) ( endowment )
Florida Geological Survey
Place of Publication:
Tallahassee, Fla.
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Peat -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Peat industry -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Peatlands -- Florida   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Bibliography: p. 95-101.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Paulette Bond, Kenneth M. Campbell, Thomas M. Scott.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:

The author dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law and all related or neighboring legal rights he or she had in the work, to the extent allowable by law.
Resource Identifier:
ltqf - AAA0881
notis - AFH8940
alephbibnum - 001093352
oclc - 15306483
lccn - 87622314
issn - 0085-0640 ;
System ID:

Table of Contents
    Title Page
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    Front Matter
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Full Text

Elton J. Gissendanner, Executive Director

Art Wilde, Director

Walter Schmidt, Chief

Special Publication No. 27



Paulette Bond
Kenneth M. Campbell
Thomas M. Scott

Published for the




Secretary of State


Commissioner of Education

Attorney General


Commissioner of Agriculture

Executive Director


July 1986

Governor Bob Graham, Chairman
Florida Department of Natural Resources
Tallahassee, Florida 32301

Dear Governor Graham:

Florida has an estimated 606 million tons of fuel grade peat and devel-
opment of Florida's peat as a fuel source is becoming increasing attrac-
tive. Additionally, a thriving industry related to the agricultural use of
peat currently exists in the state. Peat, however, occurs almost exclu-
sively in wetlands and is an essential component of shrinking wetland

The Bureau of Geology has designed and executed a study of Florida
peat in order to clarify issues associated with its wise utilization and
conservation. Special Publication No. 27, "An Overview of Peat in Flor-
ida" has been prepared as an account of the results of this study.


Walter Schmidt, Chief
Bureau of Geology

Printed for the
Florida Geological Survey


ISSN No. 0085-0640



Executive Summary-Paulette Bond ...................... 1
Acknow ledgements .................................. 3
Purpose and Scope of the Study ......................... 3
Historical Perspective of Peat Research in Florida ............ 4
Definition of Peat and the Significance of This
Definition- Paulette Bond ............................ 5
Terminology Relating to the Peat Forming Environment ..... 6
Peat: Agricultural or Mineral Resource? ................ 7
Harvesting or M ining .............................. 9
Classification Systems Applied to Peat ................. 11
Parameters Affecting Peat Use for Fuel ................ 13
The Accumulation of Peat-Paulette Bond ................. 14
The Process of Peat Formation ................... .... 14
Geologic Conditions Associated with Peat Accumulation .... 14
The Accumulation of Peat in Florida-Paulette Bond .......... 16
Rates of Peat Accumulation in Florida ................. 16
Geologic Settings of Peat Accumulation in Florida ........ 17
Inventory of Peat in Florida-Paulette Bond ................. 26
Mapping and Evaluating the Peat Resource .............. 26
Current Estimates of Peat in Florida ................... 28
The Everglades Agricultural Area-Paulette Bond ............ 29
History of the Everglades Agricultural Area .............. 29
Crops and Soils of the Everglades Agricultural Area ....... 33
Subsidence ..................................... 35
Conservation Measures ............................ 36
The Near Future of the Everglades Agricultural Area ....... 40
Mining Technology-Kenneth M. Campbell ................. 43
Mining Methodology Associated with the Use of Peat for
F uel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 3
Mining Methodology Associated with the Agricultural Use of
Peat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 4
Industrial Uses of Peat-Kenneth M. Campbell .............. 45
Preparation of Peat for Industrial Utilization ............. 45
Fuel U ses ...................................... 46
Direct Com bustion ............................ 46
G asification ................................. 47
Biogasification ............................... 47
Industrial Chem icals .............................. 48
Bitum ens ................................... 48
Carbohydrates ............................... 49
Hum ic A cids ................................. 49
Peat Coke, Peat Tar and Activated Carbon ........... 50

Use of Peat as a Growth Medium .................. . 50
Horticulture ................................. 50
A agriculture .................................. 51
Energy Crops ................................ 51
Sewage Treatment ................................ 51
Economic Impact of Peat Mining-Kenneth M. Campbell ....... 52
Production, Value, and Price of Peat ............ ...... 52
Location of Peat Producers ......................... 53
Location of M markets ............................... 53
U se of Peat ..................................... 55
Permitting-Kenneth M. Campbell ....................... 55
County Level Permits .............................. 55
State Level Permitting ............................. 55
Department of Environmental Regulation ............ 58
Water Management Districts ..................... 58
Suwannee River Water Management District ...... 58
St. Johns River Water Management District ....... 58
Southwest Florida Water Management District ..... 61
South Florida Water Management District ........ 61
Department of Community Affairs ................. 62
Federal Level Permitting ............................ 62
Army Corps of Engineers ........................ 62
The Environmental Protection Agency .............. 62
Peat Revenue and Taxation ............................ 63
Potential Environmental Impacts of Peat Mining-Paulette Bond 64
The Effects of Peat Mining on Wetlands ................ 64
The Effects of Peat Mining on Water Quality .......... 66
The Effects of Peat Mining on Water Resources .......... 69
Water Resources in an Undisturbed System .......... 69
Water Resource Parameters Affected by Peat Mining ... 69
The Effects of Peat Mining on Air Quality ............... 73
The Effects of Peat Mining on Topography-Thomas M.
S cott ........................................ 7 5
Endangered Species Associated with Areas of Potential Peat
Mining-Thomas M. Scott ............. .............. 81
Reclamation of Mined Peatlands-Paulette Bond ............. 83
Peatland Reclamation in Minnesota ................... 87
Peatland Reclamation in North Carolina ................ 90
Peatland Reclamation in Finland ...................... 91
Peatland Reclamation in New Brunswick ............... 92
Reclamation in Peatlands of Florida ................... 92
Summary and Conclusions ............................. 93
Mineral versus Non-Mineral ......................... 93
Harvesting versus Mining ........................... 93
Environmental Impacts of Peat Mining ................. 94
Reclamation of Peat Mines .......................... 94
Agricultural Use of Peat ............................ 94

References ...................................... .. 95
Glossary of Technical Terms-Kenneth M. Campbell .......... 102
Appendices-Paulette Bond ............................ 116
Appendix A. Federal Environmental Legislation .......... 116
Appendix B. Classification of Wetlands in Florida ........ 121
Appendix C. Florida Statutes Concerning Wetlands ...... 126
Appendix D. W ater Quality ........................ 134
Appendix E. Peatlands Management .............. . 136
Appendix F. Florida Statute 403.265: Peat Mining;
perm hitting ........................... 151


Figure Page

1 The process of coal formation .................... 10
2 The relationship of peat types to fuel grade .......... 12
3 A comparison of moisture content and heating value for
peat, wood and various coal types ................. 15
4 Peat provinces of southern Florida ................. 18
5 SW-NE cross-section from Cape Sable to vicinity of
Tam iam i Trail ................................. 19
6 Cross-section through a cypress hammock ........... 20
7 Cross-section through a "Bay Head" ............... 21
8 Cross-section through bay swamp and titi swamp ..... 22
9 Peat deposits bordering lakes ..................... 23
10 Cross-section showing peat filling lake .............. 24
11 Cross-section using cores to show buried peat layers at
Eureka Dam site, Oklawaha River, Marion County,
Florida ...................................... 2 5
12 Isopach map of the Everglades region showing thickness
of peat and some muck areas .................... 27
13 Peat deposits in Florida ......................... 30
14 Fuel grade peat deposits in Florida ................. 31
15 Peat deposits in Florida ......................... 32
16 Location map of the Everglades Agricultural Area ...... 34
17 Map of the Everglades Agricultural Area showing the
locations of profiles A-A' and B-B' ................. 37
18 Profile A-A' across the upper Everglades showing surface
elevations in 1912, 1940, 1970, 2000 ............. 38

19 Profile B-B' through the lower part of the Everglades
Agricultural Area showing surface elevations in 1912,
1940, 1970, 2000 ............................ 39
20 Soil depths predicted for the year 1980, for the
Everglades Agricultural Area .................. . 41
21 Thicknesses of soils in the Everglades Agricultural Area
as determined by a recent study ................... 42
22 Location of current peat producers in Florida ......... 53
23 Production and value of peat in Florida, 1972- 1983 ... 54
24 Topographic profile of a karst basin peat deposit in north
Florida ...................................... 76
25 Topographic profile of St. Johns River Marsh peat
deposit in southern Brevard County ................ 77
26 Topographic profile of the Oklawaha River peat deposit in
northern Lake and southern Marion counties .......... 78
27 Topographic profile of the Santa Fe Swamp peat deposit
in Alachua and Bradford counties .................. 79
28 Topographic profile of the Everglades in Collier and Dade
counties ................................... 80


Table Page

1 Estimated rates of peat accumulation in Florida ....... 17
2 Proportions of the organic soils of the Everglades
Agricultural Area falling into categories based on
thickness ................................... 43
3 Summary of county level permitting requirements ...... 56
4 Water quality issues associated with peat mining ...... 67
5 Water resources issues associated with peat mining .... 71
6 Air quality issues associated with peat mining ........ 74
7 Plant communities of concern .................... 82
8 Endangered, threatened, and rare species associated with
areas of potential peat accumulation ............... 84
9 Independent factors governing site specific reclamation
programs ........................... ......... 88


Paulette Bond, Kenneth M. Campbell and Thomas M. Scott


Peat is a deposit of partially decayed plant remains which accumulates
in a waterlogged environment. It may contain some proportion of inor-
ganic material which is referred to as ash. Ash content is a critical param-
eter if peat is to be used as a fuel and may not exceed 25 percent of the
material by dry weight. In addition, fuel grade deposits must be at least
four feet thick with a surface area of at least 80 contiguous acres per
square mile. Fuel grade peat must yield at least 8000 BTU per moisture-
free pound.
Peat is removed from the ground in an excavation process. The proce-
dure is alternatively referred to as harvesting or mining. "Harvesting"
when used in conjunction with peat correctly refers to the nearly obso-
lete practice of harvesting living Sphagnum from the surface of a bog. In
this process, the Sphagnum was allowed to grow back so that repeated
harvests were possible in a given area. Very little or no true harvesting
occurs today. Thus, the extraction of peat is properly termed mining.
An important implication of the definition of peat is peat's classifica-
tion as an agricultural resource as opposed to a mineral resource. This
classification may have ramifications with respect to the sorts of regula-
tions which are applied to peat mining. Peat does not comply with the
conditions set forth in the academic definition of the term mineral. It is,
however, considered a mineral resource by the United States Geological
Survey and the United States Bureau of Mines. Peat may be ancestor of
the mineral graphite and is also viewed by earth science professionals as
nonrenewable. Thus it is considered appropriate to term peat a mineral
Peat accumulates and is preserved in wetlands, such as the Ever-
glades, marshes and mangrove swamps, river-valley marshes (St. Johns
river-valley marsh), and in sinkhole lakes. This strong association of peat
with wetlands occurs because the presence of water serves to inhibit the
activity of decomposing organisms which would normally metabolize
plant matter and prevent its accumulation.
Earth science professionals consider peat to be nonrenewable. In Flor-
ida an average rate of peat accumulation is 3.62 inches per 100 years.
Using this average rate, a deposit 4 feet thick (minimum thickness of a
fuel grade deposit) could accumulate in approximately 1,326 years or
approximately 18 human lifetimes (average lifetime of 72 years).
Florida is estimated as having 677,688 acres of fuel grade peat or 606
million tons. This estimate is based on material thought to contain no


more than 25 percent ash. Other estimates are much greater (1.75 billion
tons and 6.9 billion tons). These estimates include organic soils whose
ash content exceeds ASTM standards for material defined as peat and
U.S. Department of Energy standards for fuel grade peat.
The Everglades Agricultural Area was delineated based on scientific
analysis of soils to determine their suitability as a growth medium. The
drainage necessary for successful agriculture has been accompanied by
subsidence primarily because soils are no longer protected from decom-
posing organisms which require oxygen for their metabolism. Soil loss
continues to occur at about one inch each year. It is predicted that by the
year 2000 approximately 250,000 acres in the Agricultural Area will
have subsided to thicknesses of less than one foot. The fate of soils less
than one foot thick is uncertain. They may be used for pasture land or
abandoned for agricultural purposes.
Peat currently is used in Florida for a variety of horticultural and agricul-
tural purposes. The United States Bureau of Mines reports that in 1982,
120 thousand short tons was produced at a value estimated at 1.575
million dollars. These data reflect voluntary information supplied to the
Bureau of Mines and do not include responses from all of Florida's peat
producers. Most peat sales in Florida are currently wholesale and for
agricultural purposes and are thus exempt from sales tax. Records are
not maintained which detail sales tax on retail sale of peat products
specifically, and thus there is no way of estimating the current tax
income derived from the exploitation of peat resources in the State of
The peat permitting process as it applies to peat mining is complex.
County level permits may be required, although in many cases zoning
regulations are the only regulations which apply to opening a peat mine.
At the state level, the Department of Environmental Regulation and
Water Management Districts containing peat may require permits. The
Department of Community Affairs has jurisdiction over Developments of
Regional Impact (DRI). Certain peat mining operations could come under
federal jurisdiction. The agencies concerned would include the Environ-
mental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The environmental impacts associated with peat mining for energy
purposes depend strongly on the size of the prospective operation. Envi-
ronmental impacts are also site specific. Small operations could consume
approximately 26 acres of peat mined to a depth of 6 feet, over 4 years;
moderate operations could take approximately 3500 acres mined to a
depth of 6 feet, over a 20 year period; and a large operation could require
approximately 125,000 acres of peat, mined to a depth of 6 feet to
operate for 20 years. Peat mining will occur largely in wetlands and the
values of each individual wetland must be weighed against the value of
peat to be removed. The wetland habitat will be severely affected. Fauna
will be displaced and possibly destroyed and flora will be destroyed when
the peatland is cleared for mining. Water quality impacts may be major,
even for small operations, and are related to chemical characteristics of


the discharge waters. Water resource parameters are not expected to be
severely affected by small scale operations but may be more seriously
impacted by larger scale development. The impacts of mining on air
quality arise from mining, processing, and utilizing peat as a fuel. They
are specific to an operation's size, mining method, and the intended use
for the product. Endangered species, both plant and animal, may inhabit
peatlands. The change in habitat brought about by peat mining might
lead to the destruction of certain stressed species associated with a
mined area.
Research in Minnesota, North Carolina, Finland, and New Brunswick,
Canada, show that reclamation techniques can be successfully applied
to peatlands; although, reclamation techniques are specific to those
areas and do not address problems inherent to Florida peatlands. Recla-
mation of Florida's peatlands may involve a change from wetland sys-
tems to other systems (probably aquatic systems). Restoration of mined
peatlands to their original state (for the most part wetlands) will, in all
probability, be financially unfeasible.


The initial outline for this study was read and improved by David Gluck-
man, representing the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club; Charles Lee,
representing the Florida Audubon Society; and Katherine Ewel, Helen
Hood, John Kaufmann, and Marjorie Carr, representing the Florida
Defenders of the Environment. Richard P. Lee, Florida Department of
Environmental Regulation offered helpful comments on the outline and
sent valuable references concerning wetlands. Irwin Kantrowitz, United
States Geological Survey read the outline and offered assistance. Ronnie
Best of the Center for Wetlands, University of Florida, provided an excel-
lent perspective on the values attributed to wetlands provided a most
useful reference. Roy Ingram, Professor of Geology at the University of
North Carolina, Chapel Hill, provided work space, access to his personal
collection of peat reference works and the benefit of his research experi-
ence through numerous informal conversations concerning various
aspects of peat.


This study was undertaken in response to a directive from the Florida
Legislature originating in the Natural Resources Committee of the Florida
House of Representatives. Florida is currently faced with immediate
expanding industrial interest in the exploitation of its peat resources for
fuel use. The study is primarily a compilation of literature pertinent to
peats of Florida and their use for agriculture and energy applications. It is
conceived as providing an information base for decisions concerning
both the utilization and conservation of Florida's extensive peat



Interest in Florida's peat deposits has fluctuated since the Florida Geo-
logical Survey published a "Preliminary Report on the Peat Deposits of
Florida" in its Third Annual Report (Harper, 1910). This early work was
basically a reconnaissance study of peat resources in the state. The
author acknowledged that as population density in the state increased, a
detailed report would be required. In light of current environmental
awareness, it is especially interesting that Harper (1910) recommended
studies by both an engineer and an ecologist.
The historical perspective of peat use in Florida is not complete with-
out mention of the work of Robert Ransom, a civil engineer, who came to
Florida from Ipswich, England, in 1884. Ransom viewed Florida's peat
deposits as a readily exploitable resource and was especially interested in
energy production from peat. For thirty-five years Ransom experimented
with peat, eventually even opening a test plant near Canal Point (Palm
Beach County) which produced power gas, tars, oils, methyl alcohol
and various by-products. He was not able to gain acceptance for his
radical projects within his lifetime (Davis, 1946).
In 1946, John H. Davis published The Peat Deposits of Florida, Their
Occurrence, Development and Uses. This study categorized peat-
forming environments in the state and treated individual deposits in
detail. It extended Harper's work and included chemical characterization
of various Florida peats. Chemical characteristics were related to the use
of peat for agricultural purposes and also to its use as a fuel source.
A number of studies treating the peats of south Florida have been
prepared by W. Spackman and his co-workers. Spackman, et al. (1964)
presented a summary of various coal forming environments associated
with the Everglades. This work includes a large number of geologic cross
sections which document the relationship of peats to bedrock and sur-
rounding materials. The plant communities currently associated with
peats in the various coal forming environments are also carefully docu-
mented. Cohen and Spackman (1977, 1980) present detailed descrip-
tions of peats from southern Florida along with discussions of their ori-
gin, classifications and consideration of the alteration of plant material.
Spackman and others (Pennsylvania State University, 1976) present an
updated and augmented edition of the original guidebook. The format of
these works (Spackman, et al., 1964; Pennsylvania State University,
1976) makes them particularly useful to scientists in various disciplines
whose interests involve the various wetland environments of south Flor-
In 1979, the U.S. Department of Energy began its "Peat Development
Program". The assessment of fuel grade peat deposits was part of an
effort to define energy resources in the United States exclusive of petro-
leum. The Florida Governor's Energy Office subcontracted with the Uni-
versity of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to survey
the peat resources of Florida. This study resulted in a literature survey of


peat deposits of Florida combined with detailed work in the Everglades
Agricultural Area (Griffin, et al., 1982).
The current study was undertaken in response to a directive from the
Florida Legislature originating in the Natural Resources Committee of the
Florida House of Representatives. It provides a compilation of informa-
tion concerning the location and amount of Florida's peat resources. In
addition, the various aspects of the Everglades Agricultural Area are
described in some detail and implications of subsidence of peats in this
region are considered. Emphasis is also placed on existing information
relative to potential effects of peat mining on Florida's environment.
Legislation which may be applied to peat mining, water quality parame-
ters monitored in conjunction with various phases of peat mining, and
methods of regulation applied to the peat resource by Minnesota, North
Carolina, and New Brunswick are included as appendices to this report.


Paulette Bond

Peat is defined by workers in a variety of disciplines (geology, botany,
soil science, and horticulture among others). These definitions have pro-
liferated in response to the multiple uses of peat. The American Geologi-
cal Institute defines peat as, "An unconsolidated deposit of semicar-
bonized plant remains of a watersaturated environment, such as a bog or
fen and of persistently high moisture content (at least 75 percent). It is
considered an early stage or rank in the development of coal . ." (Gary,
et al., eds., 1974). This extremely general definition notes several essen-
tial points. Peat is composed of plant remains which accumulate in a wet
environment. It is considered to be an early product of the coal-forming
In a definition which will be published in an upcoming volume (A.
Cohen, personal communication, 1984), the American Society for Test-
ing and Materials (ASTM) defines peat as a naturally occurring unconsoli-
dated substance derived primarily from plant materials. Peat is distin-
guished from other organic soil materials by its lower ash content (less
than 25 percent ash by dry weight [ASTM Standards D2974]) and from
other phytogenic material of higher rank (i.e. lignite coal) by its lower
BTU value on a water saturated basis. This definition is designed so that
peats may be classified objectively and distinguished from both organic
soils and coals.
Griffin, et al., (1982) note the definition of fuel grade peat which was
used by the United States Department of Energy for its "Peat Develop-
ment Program". Fuel grade peat was defined as an organic soil consist-
ing of greater than 75 percent organic matter in the dry state. In order for
a peat deposit to be classified as fuel grade, the deposit must be at least


four feet thick, with a surface area of not less than 80 contiguous acres
per square mile and yield not less than 8,000 BTU per pound (moisture
free). The definition for fuel grade peat establishes minimum standards
for organic matter content and also for heating value (BTU per pound). It
further comments on the deposit itself, stipulating minimum thickness
and contiguous acreage requirements.
The three definitions of peat presented here reflect the specific pur-
poses of individuals and agencies who prepared them. Varied user
groups and professionals who work with peat may formulate additional
definitions directly suited to their needs. It is thus necessary to determine
the way in which an author defines peat in order to fully understand the
implications of his work.
In the state of Florida, the definition of peat may take on special signifi-
cance if it is used as a criterion for designation of peat as either a mineral
resource or an agricultural (vegetable) resource. It has been argued that if
peat is not classified as a mineral then its excavation might constitute a
harvesting process. Harvesting may not be subject to the regulatory
procedures that govern mining of a legally-defined mineral material.
The usage of the term harvesting to describe the mining of peat fol-
lows U.S. Department of Energy (1979). "Harvesting" when used in
conjunction with peat correctly refers to the nearly obsolete practice of
harvesting living Sphagnum (peat moss) from the surface of a bog. In this
process, the Sphagnum was allowed to grow back so that repeated
harvests were possible in a given area. Thus, a crop was in actuality
"harvested". Very little or no true harvesting occurs today (A. Cohen,
personal communication, 1984).

Terminology Relating to the Peat Forming Environment

Peat can only accumulate in a wet environment. The terms which refer
to these environments take on different definitions according to author
preference. The American Geological Institute distinguishes between
bogs and fens on the basis of chemistry. Bogs and fens are both charac-
terized as waterlogged, spongy groundmasses. Bogs, however, contain
acidic, decaying vegetation consisting mainly of mosses while fens con-
tain alkaline, decaying vegetation, mainly reeds (Gary, et al., eds.,
1974). The terms "bog" and "fen" are not usually applied to peatlands
in the southeastern United States. They are included in this discussion
because they occur frequently in the literature associated with peatlands
extraneous to Florida. Although a significant body of research specific to
the peats of Florida exists (Cohen and Spackman, 1980; Cohen and
Spackman, 1977; Griffin, et al., 1982; Pennsylvania State University,
1976), much information concerning mining techniques, reclamation
methods and hydrologic aspects of peatlands pertains directly to areas
remote from Florida where the terms "bog" and "fen" may be used.
The concepts of minerotrophy and ombrotrophy are based on the qual-
ity of water feeding a peatland (Heikurainen, 1976) and are perceived as


separate from the series eutrophy, mesotrophy and oligotrophy. The lat-
ter series describes nutrient resources of peatlands using plant composi-
tion with eutrophy being richer in nutrients and oligotrophy being poorer.
The eutrophy-oligotrophy series is difficult to apply since it may be
expanded to include additional extreme and transitional groups. The
boundaries between these various groups are not clear (Heikurainen,
1976) and they will not be considered further in this document.
Bogs are said to be ombrotropic, which implies that the bog is isolated
from the regional groundwater system and receives its moisture mainly
from precipitation. Minerotrophic peatlands, or fens, are defined as being
connected with the regional groundwater system and are nourished both
by precipitation and groundwater flow (Brooks and Predmore, 1978).
The U.S. Department of Energy in its Peat Prospectus avoids the usage
of fen and characterizes peat as forming in swamps, bogs, and saltwater
and freshwater marshes (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979). The extent
of this confusion becomes clear on examination of the American Geologi-
cal Institute's definition of swamp (Gary, et al., eds., 1974) which is
characterized as, "A water saturated area . essentially without
peatlike accumulation". It should be noted that most workers in the field
do not concur with the portion of the American Geological Institute's
definition that addresses the accumulation of peat in swamps (A. Cohen,
personal communication, 1984). Moore and Bellamy (1974, p. 84) use
the term "mire" to cover all wetland ecosystems in which peat accumu-
lates in the same area where its parent plant material lived and grew.
Thus, the meaning of specific names assigned to the peat-forming envi-
ronment must be derived from an author's context.
In the southeastern United States, the most commonly used terms for
peat-forming environments are swamps and marshes. Swamps refer to
forested wetlands and marshes refer to aquatic, herbaceous wetlands
(A. Cohen, personal communication, 1984).

Peat: Agricultural or Mineral Resource?

In Florida, peat may eventually be viewed as a mineral resource or an
agricultural resource. The United States Bureau of Mines has long con-
sidered peat a mineral resource for the reporting of commodity statistics.
In deference to the formal definition of the term "mineral", the greatest
majority of earth science professionals would not classify peat as a min-
eral. Peat might be likened more properly to a rock in that it contains a
number of minerals (quartz, pyrite, and clay minerals among others) as
well as macerals which are the organic equivalents of minerals.
If, however, the formal and most restricted definition of mineral is
compared with a definition of mineral that reflects current usage, it is
noted that "minerals" adhere to the specifications of the formal defini-
tion in varying degrees. The intent of this discussion is not to establish
that peat is a mineral, but rather to illustrate the extent to which the
formal definition has been expanded in common usage.


A standard mineralogy textbook for university students, Elements of
Mineralogy (Mason and Berry, 1968), gives the following definition of a
mineral: "A mineral is a naturally occurring, homogeneous solid, inorgan-
ically formed, with a definite chemical composition and an ordered
atomic arrangement". This definition is useful because its authors con-
tinue by expanding on each part of their definition, taking into account
the complexity of the group of compounds classified as minerals.
According to this definition, a mineral must be naturally occurring. This
eliminates materials which are synthesized in the laboratory or are
formed as by-products of various manufacturing processes. Since peat is
indisputably naturally occurring, this aspect of the definition will not be
considered further.
A mineral must also be a homogeneous solid. This qualification elimi-
nates liquids and gases from consideration and implies that a mineral
cannot be separated into simpler compounds by any physical means
(Mason and Berry, 1968). In the coalification process by which plant
material (i.e., cellulose) becomes peat, water, carbon dioxide and meth-
ane are evolved with time (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979). The coali-
fication process (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979) refers to a general-
ization of the peat-forming process in which all initial plant material is
referred to as cellulose. In actuality, peat contains many types of plant
material and may possibly contain no cellulose at all. It is important here
to note that many mineral substances evolve water or gaseous by-
products when subjected to changed conditions of pressure or tempera-
ture. Gypsum dehydrates (evolves water) forming anhydrite. The mineral
talc evolves water and forms enstatite and quartz at elevated tempera-
tures. Thus, minerals may contain water as an integral part of their crys-
tal structures.
The term mineral is restricted by definition (Mason and Berry, 1968) to
refer to inorganically formed substances. It eliminates homogeneous
solids formed by plants and animals such as oyster shells, pearls and
gallstones. Ostensibly, this qualification could eliminate peat from con-
The American Geological Institute in its Glossary of Geology (Gary, et
al., eds., 1974) includes the following references in its definition of the
term mineral: "A mineral is generally considered to be inorganic, though
organic compounds are classified by some as minerals". Thus, organic
compounds are not automatically eliminated from consideration as min-
erals. This suggests that the term mineral has come to be used in a sense
that is less restricted than might be supposed from examination of the
definition presented to beginning students of mineralogy.
Minerals are defined as having definite chemical composition (Mason
and Berry, 1968). This implies that their composition must be readily
expressible using a chemical formula. It does not preclude variation in
chemical composition. Variation within definite limits is allowed, thus,
the composition is definite but not fixed (Mason and Berry, 1968). The
compositions of cellulose and the peat derived from it are frequently


cited using the appropriate chemical formulae (Soper and Osbon, 1922,
pp. 6-7; U.S. Department of Energy, 1979, pp. 5-6; Cameron, 1973,
p. 506). (As noted previously, the formulae cited here are based on a
generalization of the peat-forming process in which peat is derived from
a starting material of cellulose. Due to the complex composition of most
peats, this simplified approximation is not realistic).
The last criterion in Mason and Berry's definition of a mineral is that of
an ordered atomic arrangement; that is, a mineral should be a crystalline
solid. Mason and Berry (1968) note a group of compounds which are
considered minerals even though the crystalline state is not initially
attained: "A few minerals, the commonest being opal, are formed by the
solidification of a colloidal gel and are noncrystalline initially; many such
minerals become crystalline during geologic time". The mineral opal may
attain an ordered atomic arrangement only in the course of geologic time.
The coal-forming process is illustrated in Figure 1. As organic matter
(originally deposited as peat) is subjected to conditions of increasing
temperature and pressure it undergoes the changes associated with coal-
ification. The end-product of this process is the mineral graphite (Press
and Siever, 1974, p. 468). Graphite crystallizes in the hexagonal system
and its formula is simply carbon (C). It is found in a number of occur-
rences including metamorphosed coal beds (Quinn and Glass, 1958).
The parallels with the case of opal seem apparent. Neither opal nor peat
initially attain the internal atomic ordering referred to in Mason and Ber-
ry's definition of a mineral. Opal will presumably achieve internal atomic
ordering in the course of geologic time (Mason and Berry, 1968). The
transformation of peat into the mineral graphite requires, in addition to
the passage of time, increases in temperature and pressure (Press and
Siever, 1974) and will be accompanied by the evolution of various liquids
and gases.
Geologists do not universally include crystalline form as a prerequisite
to classification of a material as a mineral. This is demonstrated in the
continuation of the AGI Glossary's definition of mineral. "Those who
include the requirement of crystalline form in the definition of a mineral
would consider an amorphous compound such as opal to be a 'mineral-
oid' (Gary, et al., eds., 1974)
The United States Geological Survey in its volume entitled United
States Mineral Resources (Brobst and Pratt, eds., 1973), devotes a chap-
ter to peat as well as chapters to petroleum, natural gas and coal. The
United States Bureau of Mines also considers peat to be a mineral
resource in addition to coals, petroleum and natural gas. These
resources, including peat, are all non-renewable.

Harvesting or Mining

Harvesting and mining are both terms which are applied to the extrac-
tion of peat. As was discussed in the section of this report "The Defini-
tion of Peat and Significance of this Definition" the term "harvesting"



Plant litter accumulates at
the surface

Buried plant litter decays
partially and is compacted
forming peat

Underlying sediments in Florida
typically consist of limestone
clay and unconsolidated sand.




-OF METE 0 F ........ ......

--- ----- ---Bi iriiriril~O~ ~i~

Figure 1. The process of coal formation. (Modified from Press

and Siever, 1974, Figure 13- 18, p. 468).

With shallow burial peat is
compressed to form brown

Additional burial transforms
the brown coal to lignite if
burial is comparatively shallow
and bituminous coal if depth of
burial is greater.

Coal is metamorphosed to anthracite
or graphite with continuing burial
and metamorphism.


properly refers to the practically obsolete procedure of literally harvesting
living Sphagnum from the surface of a bog. In this procedure, Sphagnum
is allowed to continue its growth subsequent to harvesting (A. Cohen,
personal communication, 1984). Peat, however, is not considered
renewable due to its slow rate of accumulation (U.S. Department of
Energy, 1979; Moore and Bellamy, 1974).
Currently, the choice of "harvesting" as opposed to "mining" for
terms to describe the excavation process of peat may be arbitrary. The
type of distinction is demonstrated in the following quotation taken from
Peat Prospectus: "Thus, the recovery of peat is a surface mining or
harvesting process," (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979, p. 18). It may
be significant that surface mining carries with it certain negative environ-
mental connotations. Harvesting is largely free of environmentally nega-
tive connotations but this is perceived to be due to a lack of understand-
ing since harvesting is frequently used as synonymous with surface
The equipment utilized in the peat removal process is not associated
with harvesting in its commonly accepted sense. Peat operations which
are currently active in Florida utilize earth moving and excavating
machinery. In drained bogs such machinery commonly includes shovels,
bulldozers and front-end loaders while draglines, clamshells and dredges
are used in undrained bogs (Searls, 1980).
The process of harvesting in its usual sense does not imply the neces-
sity of extensive land reclamation. However, reclamation of peatlands
which have been excavated is acknowledged as necessary (Minnesota
Department of Natural Resources, 1981) and is discussed more thor-
oughly in the section of this report entitled "Reclamation of Peatlands of

Classification Systems Applied to Peat

Peat, like many materials, is classified for the convenience of persons
using it. Since peat use in the United States has been largely agricultural,
most classification schemes are based on properties of peat pertinent to
agricultural applications. As one might expect, classification schemes
devised for agricultural application do not necessarily indicate peat qual-
ity for energy purposes. However, there is a general relationship between
peat decomposition and its energy value with respect to direct combus-
tion. This is illustrated in Figure 2.
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has estab-
lished maximum and minimum particle sizes for fibers found in peat
(ASTM, 1969). They additionally specify fiber content requirements for
various types of peat. The maximum particle size for fibers is 0.5 inch
(1.25 cm) and the minimum is 0.006 inches (0.15 mm). Peat is subdi-
vided into five types and each type must contain a certain percentage of
the characteristic fiber. These percentages are based on an oven-dried
weight at 1050C as opposed to volume. The types of peat recognized by



0 10 20 30 40

Figure 2. The relationship of peat types
Energy, 1979).




50 60 70 80 90 100

to fuel grade. (Modified from U.S. Department of


the ASTM include: 1) Sphagnum moss peat which must contain at least
66.66 percent Sphagnum fibers by weight, 2) Hypnum moss peat which
must contain at least 33.33 percent fibers with one-half of those identifi-
able as Hypnum moss, 3) reed-sedge peat which must contain at least
33.33 percent fibers, one-half of which are reed-sedge and other non-
mosses, 4) peat-humus must contain less than 33.33 percent fiber, and
5) other peat, which accounts for all peat not previously classified in
ASTM Designation D-2607-69 (ASTM, 1969).
The ASTM classification as discussed in the previous paragraph is
currently under revision. Two major factors were considered in this revi-
sion. The classification of peat should meet the needs of three major user
groups including engineers, energy users and agricultural users. In addi-
tion, the classification should be based on parameters which may be
measured objectively. These parameters include ash, botanical composi-
tion, pH, and water holding capacity. In order to be called peat, a material
will have to contain 75 percent or more organic material on a dry basis.
Although peats will still be categorized as fibric, hemic or sapric (based
on fiber content), these general terms will be modified by ash content,
botanical composition, pH and water holding capacity (A. Cohen, personal
communication, 1983).
One essential characteristic that is associated with peat is moisture
level, but there are no current regulated standards for moisture in peat.
The United States Bureau of Mines considers a "commonly accepted"
value in the United States to be 55 percent moisture by weight for air
dried peat (Searls, 1980).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture divides peat into three categories
(Searls, 1980). Fibric peat must contain more than 66.66 percent plant
fibers. Hemic peats are more decomposed than fibric peats. They must
have a fiber content which ranges between 33.33 percent and 66.66
percent fibers. Sapric peat consists of the most extensively decomposed
plant material. Sapric peat contains less than 33.33 percent recognizable
plant fragments of any type.
Peat in the United States has often been classified into three general
categories (Searls, 1980; U.S. Department of Energy, 1979). Moss peat
is comprised of Sphagnum, Hypnum and other mosses. Reed-sedge peat
is mainly the product of reeds, sedges and other swamp plants. Humus is
simply too decomposed for evidence of its origin to be retained.

Parameters Affecting Peat Use for Fuel

The parameters which bear most directly on peat's usefulness as a fuel
source are measured by proximate analysis. In this procedure, peat is
analyzed in the laboratory for its volatile content, fixed carbon, ash con-
tent and moisture. The volatile content of peat refers to substances other
than moisture which are emitted as gas and vapor when peat is burned.
Peat has a very high volatile content compared to coal. This is a positive
attribute for peat which is to be gasified since the reactivity of peat in the


gasification process increases with increased volatile content. The fixed
carbon content of the peat is responsible for much of its combustion
Ash is the amount of materials in a fuel which remains after combus-
tion. The amount of ash varies for different types of peat. Peats which
receive their moisture primarily from precipitation are usually lower in ash
than those which are nourished by surface waters. In times of flood,
surface waters may carry large sediment loads onto the peatlands where
sediment is trapped in the peat.
Peat's high moisture content can be a major problem which must be
considered in its utilization. Even a drained and solidified bog may con-
tain 70 95 percent moisture and for some uses peat will require addi-
tional drying which will, in turn, require energy.


Paulette Bond

The Process of Peat Formation

Peat forms when the rate of accumulation of plant matter exceeds the
rate at which decomposing organisms metabolize it. The conversion of
fresh plant material to peat takes place over a period of time as peat
becomes enriched in fixed carbon while evolving water, carbon dioxide
and methane (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979). Peat is comparatively
increased in fixed carbon as opposed to cellulose, and the process by
which this takes place is referred to as carbonization. It is this enrichment
of carbon which makes peat desirable as a fuel source (Figure 3). The
Peat Prospectus (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979) compares peat with
wood and various grades of coal in terms of fixed carbon and heating
value (in British Thermal Units, BTU). The following values are taken
from Figure 3 of the Peat Prospectus and are approximate (U.S. Depart-
ment of Energy, 1979). One pound of wood has a fixed carbon content
of approximately 20 percent and generates 9,300 BTU on a moisture and
mineral free basis. An equivalent amount of peat contains 28 percent
fixed carbon and generates approximately 10,600 BTU. These values for
peat and wood contrast with values for lignite which yields about
12,400 BTU and has a fixed carbon content of approximately 47 per-

Geologic Conditions Associated with Peat Accumulation

As was previously noted, peat forms when the accumulation of plant
material exceeds its destruction by the organisms which decompose it.
Since plant matter is usually decomposed before significant accumula-
tions develop, it is instructive to examine the set of circumstances which
allow peat to form. Certain geologic, hydrologic and climatic conditions




Figure 3. A comparison of moisture content and heating value
for peat, wood and various coal types. (Modified from
U.S. Department of Energy, 1979).

serve to inhibit decomposition by organisms. Ideally, areas should be
continually waterlogged, temperatures generally low and pH values of
associated waters should be low (Moore and Bellamy, 1974). It should
be noted that Moore and Bellamy (1974) primarily treat peats associated
with northern cold climates.
Certain geologic characteristics are associated with waterlogged sur-
face conditions. The tendency toward waterlogging is enhanced if topo-
graphic relief is generally low and topographic barriers exist which
restrict flow and allow water to pond. Additionally, waterlogging is
encouraged if highly permeable bedrock is covered with material of low
permeability (Olson, et al., 1979).
The chemical nature of the plant litter may also serve to reduce its
susceptibility to decomposition. Moore and Bellamy (1974) note the
association of cypress and hardwood trees in peats of the hammocks or
tree islands of the Everglades. These hammocks occur on peat deposits
wihnrhr cl lmts
Ceti elgccaateitc r soitd ihwtrogdsr
fac coditon. Te tndncytowrdwatrlogig i enaned f tpo


which are situated on limestone bedrock. The trees, which are responsi-
ble for the peat beneath them, contain enormous amounts of lignin.
Lignin is very resistant to decay (Moore and Bellamy, 1974). It is alterna-
tively suggested that hammock peats in Florida may be controlled more
by the persistence of water than by the amount of lignin (A. Cohen,
personal communication, 1984).


Paulette Bond

Rates of Peat Accumulation

Knowledge of the rate of peat accumulation is important in that it
allows various extractive uses for the resource to be weighed in light of
the amount of time it takes for the mineral to accumulate. Rates of peat
accumulation are usually determined using the carbon-14 method of dat-
ing organic materials. This method is subject to a number of difficulties
when applied to peat. The following problems were enumerated by
Moore and Bellamy (1974): 1) Wide errors may be introduced since
young roots may penetrate material at depth. This problem could result in
apparently rapid rates for the accumulation of peat. 2) Older layers are
compacted as new ones are deposited. This could cause rates of deposi-
tion to appear anomalously low. 3) Rates of peat formation vary with
climate and climate varies with time. Thus, an accumulation rate proba-
bly reflects a sort of average rate for some given amount of peat. Several
estimates of peat accumulation rates in Florida are presented in Table 1.
The variation in rate presented here for peat accumulation may be
attributed to a number of factors. Gleason, et al., (1974) used Davis'
(1946) data to compute a value of productivity for the sawgrass environ-
ment. Productivity refers to the amount of dry organic matter (measured
in pounds) which is formed on an acre of ground in a year. When this
productivity is compared to the dry weight of an acre-foot of peat as
estimated by Davis (1946), a discrepancy is apparent. According to
these computations, more material accumulates as peat than is originally
formed in the sawgrass environment (Gleason, et al., 1974). Factors
which may account for this difficulty include possible low estimates of
productivity and inadequate estimates of silica content or peat density. It
is also possible that silica in the peat might not be entirely derived from
sawgrass (Gleason, et al., 1974). Rates of peat accumulation computed
from radiocarbon age are grouped about an average of 9.1 cm/100
years. The rate of peat accumulation can vary with climate (which also
varies with time), the position of the water table and nutrient supply
(Moore and Bellamy, 1974). Data are not available which would allow
rate variation in different environments to be evaluated. The rates pre-
sented here were calculated from peats produced from varying plant


Table 1. Estimated rates of peat accumulation in Florida.

(1946, p. 74)

(1980, p. 49)

(1980, p. 49)

(1974, p. 356)

Estimated Rate
5.2 in./100 years

4.24 in./100 years

3.64 in./100 years

3 in./100 years

communities which thrive in different environments. In addition, peat
has been lost by fire during various prehistoric dry periods (Cohen,
1974). Failure to recognize evidence of fire could alter the rate at which
peat is calculated to accumulate.

Geologic Settings of Peat Accumulation in Florida

The conditions under which peat can occur in Florida are highly varia-
ble. While geologic and hydrologic relations of peat to its neighboring
materials have been thoroughly documented in the Everglades of south
Florida, numerous small deposits in the central peninsula remain
unmapped. Davis (1946, p. 114), considered the peat deposits of Florida
as falling into a number of groups based on their locations. These groups
include: 1) coastal associations, including marshes and mangrove
swamps, lagoons and estuaries as well as depressions among dunes; 2)
large, nearly flat, poorly-drained areas as exemplified by the Everglades
illustrated in Figures 4, 5, 6, and 7; 3) river-valley marshes such as the
marsh adjacent to the St. Johns River; 4) swamps of the flatland region
(Figure 8); 5) marshes bordering lakes and ponds (Figure 9); 6) season-
ally flooded shallow depressions; 7) lake bottom deposits (Figure 10); 8)
peat layers buried beneath other strata (Figure 11).
Cohen and Spackman (1977) have devised a more comprehensive
classification of south Florida's phytogenic (of plant origin) sediments

This rate is computed based on the amount of
SiO2 fixed by a standing crop of sawgrass from
the Everglades. It is widely quoted, but a recent
analysis of the method (Gleason, et al., 1974)
indicates that certain of the assumptions
necessary to the calculation must be in error.
This difficulty is discussed more completely in
the accompanying text.

This rate was computed from a core which
penetrated peat formed alternately in marine,
brackish and fresh water environments from
southwest Florida. The computations were
based on radiocarbon ages.

This rate was computed for a single type of
peat, red mangrove (Rhizophora), from
southwest Florida using measured thickness
and radiometric ages.

Rates were computed from the Everglades
using radiocarbon ages which were not
specifically referenced in the text.


Figure 4. Peat provinces of southern Florida. (Modified from Spack-
man, et al., 1976).

based on micropetrological studies. They first divide phytogenic sedi-
ments into two groups based on whether the plant material is trans-
ported from the site of growth or deposited at or near the growth sites of
their source plants. Transported and nontransported phytogenic sedi-
ments are subdivided as occurring in marine to brackish water or fresh


Figure 5. SW-NE cross-section from Cape Sable to vicinity of
Tamiami Trail. (Modified from Spackman, et al., 1964;
and Spackman, et al., 1976.

water. Specific environments are enumerated for both marine to brackish
water deposits and also fresh water deposits. Peats of these deposits are
differentiated based mainly on their botanical composition.




Figure 6. Cross-section through a cypress hammock, Everglades National
Spackman, et al., 1964).

"Moat" a


i -0


0 FEET 50

Park. (Modified from

I :*:*.*.




Figure 7. Cross-section through a "Bay Head," Everglades National Park. (Modified from
Spackman, et al., 1964).


50 C
(15.2) M


30 -

(9.1) 0
20 L "-


Figure 8. Cross-section through bay swamp and titi swamp, Bradwell Bay Wilderness,
Wakulla County, Florida. (Modified from Cameron, et al., 1977).





R 25E


R 27E

I I u
Figure 9. Peat deposits bordering lakes in Lake and Orange counties,
Florida. (From Davis, 1946).



Figure 10. Cross-section showing peat filling lake (Mud Lake, Marion County, Florida).
(From Davis, 1946).

Figure 11. Cross-section using cores to show buried peat layers at Eureka Dam site, Oklawaha
River, Marion County, Florida. (From Davis, 1946.)


In Florida, peat deposits occur above or below the watertable (Davis,
1946; Gurr, 1972). Wet peat deposits occur if the watertable remains
relatively high. Peat may be actively accumulating in these settings.
Certain areas within the Everglades, the coastal mangrove peats, and
some lake-fringing peat deposits, such as the one associated with Lake
Istokpoga, are examples of deposits which occur below the watertable.
In other instances, peat deposits are now located above the watertable
due to drainage instigated to enhance the land for agricultural use. The
Everglades agricultural region contains numerous tracts drained for this
purpose. Other deposits have apparently been drained as a result of
regional lowering of the watertable. Most peatlands in Florida occur at or
below the watertable and, thus, are very frequently also wetlands.


Paulette Bond

Mapping and Evaluating the Peat Resource

There is no comprehensive inventory of Florida's peat deposits cur-
rently in print. Excluding the early work of Robert Ransom, peat was not
considered as a fuel source in Florida; and several scattered deposits
were adequate to satisfy the state's agricultural and horticultural needs.
Thus, neither interest nor funding were available for a complete peat
inventory in the recent past.
It is important to point out that a comprehensive inventory of Florida's
peat resource is, of necessity, a massive undertaking. The reasons for
this difficulty are manifold. Florida is currently estimated to have 6.9
billion tons of peat contained in approximately 4,700 square miles (U.S.
Department of Energy, 1979, p. 16). This peat occurs in a variety of
geologic settings which are both discontinuous and widely distributed
across the breadth and length of the state. The various geologic settings
of peat in Florida are discussed in a previous section, "Geologic Settings
of Peat Accumulation in Florida".
These difficulties are compounded by the inaccessibility of many peat-
producing areas. Peat actively accumulates in wetland situations typified
by fresh water marshes, swamps, and mangrove swamps. Much of Flori-
da's peat occurs in the Everglades region (Figure 12). Due to extensive
drainage in the Everglades the exact thickness and extent of the peat has
decreased since Figure 12 (Davis, 1946) was prepared. Many of these
areas are not accessible to conventional vehicles. Their size and charac-
ter may render foot travel unfeasible. Some, but not all, sites may be
accessible to boats. Coring equipment for taking samples and measuring
thickness must, in addition, accompany any field party charged with
assessing peat reserves.
A realistic appraisal of Florida's peat resource is further complicated by


Figure 12. Isopach map of the Everglades
region showing thickness of peat
and some muck areas. (From
Davis, 1946).

the variability of the material. Peat may be classified as fibric, hemic or
sapric depending on the extent to which it has decomposed (see section
entitled "Classification Systems Applied to Peat"). It also varies with
respect to the chemical and physical properties that affect its eventual
uses, e.g. fuel and horticulture. Complete assessment of the peat
resource requires laboratory analysis in addition to time-consuming field
Attempts to assess the amount and locations of peat in Florida are
hampered by an additional factor. Peat deteriorates by oxidizing when
the wetlands where it accumulates are drained. This drainage may be
due to the activities of man or by natural lowering of the water table in


S 7-9Y ';.'. "

5-7 BIG

D o-





times of drought. Any data base for peat will require periodic updating if
it is to remain useful.

Current Estimates of Peat in Florida

The total peat resources available in Florida are difficult to estimate
and published values vary widely. The paucity of actual peat resource
investigations is an important hindrance to the development of accurate
figures. A few published studies are concerned with the entire state
(Davis, 1946; Griffin, et al., 1982). Several others concentrate on limited
areas (Stephens and Johnson, 1951; Gurr, 1972).
Individual county soil surveys vary in their usefulness due to apparent
inconsistencies in the terminology relating to organic soils and peats. The
more recent studies were used by Griffin, et al. (1982) to estimate fuel
grade peat resources. Unfortunately, these studies are not complete for
every county in the state. As a result, Griffin, et al. (1982) were unable
to provide a comprehensive inventory of the peat resources for the entire
Another possible reason for the variation between resource estimates
may be the result of the specific material studied. Griffin, et al. (1982)
investigated "fuel-grade peats" (defined by the U.S. Department of
Energy for their peat resource study) while Davis (1946) inventoried a
variety of organic materials classified as peats. The United States Soil
Conservation Service studies soils in general and describes their organic
content in addition to other characteristics.
Griffin, et al. (1982) reported the discrepancies among the figures
from various studies but were unable to determine the reason for the
differences. Griffin, et al. (1982) also state that verbal reports from other
U.S. Department of Energy peat researchers indicate that they have
found similar discrepancies between the resource figures from the U.S.
Soil Conservation Service and their own figures in other states.
Published estimates of Florida's peat resources vary nearly by an order
of magnitude. Griffin, et al. (1982) provide the lowest figure of 677,688
acres (1,059 square miles) consisting of 606 million tons of moisture-
free peat. Davis (1946) estimated 2,240,000 acres (3,500 square
miles), comprising 1,750,000,000 tons of air dried peat. The highest
figure is provided by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service (in U.S. Depart-
ment of Energy, 1979) and is 3,000,000 acres (4,700 square miles), or
6,900,000,000 (35 percent moisture by weight) tons of peat. The pub-
lished resource estimates vary significantly and thus should be used with
The determination of a more accurate resource figure for Florida peats
would require a significant investment of time and money to complete.
The scattered nature of the deposits in north and central Florida (Figure
13) is such that there are literally thousands of sites to be investigated. In
south Florida, peat deposits cover broad areas which would have to be
examined in order for accurate estimates to be prepared.


The greatest potential peat resources in Florida lie predominantly in
south Florida (Figures 13, 14, and 15). The vast majority of this peat lies
in the Everglades and associated swampy areas. It is interesting to note
that while Davis (1946) (Figure 13) and the U.S. Department of the
Interior (State of Florida Governor's Energy Office, 1981) (Figure 15)
show similar areas of peat in south Florida, Griffin, et al. (1982) (Figure
14) show a significantly smaller area. This discrepancy may be due to
subsidence and high ash content which would render peat unsuitable for
fuel use. Griffin, et al. (1982) show peat deposits in Collier and Lee
counties that are not included on the other maps.
Figures 13, 14, and 15 indicate the presence of large deposits in the
St. Johns River Valley (Indian River, Brevard and Orange counties), and
the Oklawaha River Valley (Marion and Lake counties). Other relatively
large deposits include: Lake Apopka (Orange and Lake counties), near
Lake Arbuckle (Highlands County), Orange Lake area (Marion and Ala-
chua counties) and the Florahome deposit (Putnam County). Smaller
deposits are also indicated on Davis' (1946) map (Figure 13) and Griffin,
et al. (1982) map (Figure 14).
It is interesting to note that while Davis (1946) (Figure 13) shows
scattered samples taken from small peat areas in the panhandle, Griffin,
et al. (1982) (Figure 14) show a number of deposits, including a large
deposit in Leon County and smaller deposits in Bay, Jackson, and Santa
Rosa counties. The U.S. Department of the Interior map (State of Florida
Governor's Energy Office, 1981) (Figure 15) does not indicate any
deposits in the panhandle.
Peats associated with mangrove and coastal swamps generally occur
in a narrow band paralleling Florida's coastline. The zone occupied by
these environments is widest in southwest Florida. These peats are not
generally shown on the maps of peat resources due to the scale of the
Until a more detailed investigation of our peat resources is undertaken
the published resource estimates must suffice. It must, however, be kept
in mind that the figures are estimates of the available resources and vary
from one investigator to another.


Paulette Bond

History of the Everglades Agricultural Area

The Everglades Agricultural Area is a part of an immense natural drain-
age system that begins in the northernmost reaches of the Kissimmee
River drainage basin near Orlando. The Kissimmee River flows to the
southeast into Lake Okeechobee. In its natural state, the level of Lake
Okeechobee fluctuated within a range of approximately 8 feet, that is,


"" ; -" :: .

A Muck n a . a d. .

B Loxahatchee Peat ..
C Loxohatchee Peat 0







K LAKE APOPK SHed e-pi-t 'Fr m Dis 1
M ORANGE LAKE ......... p . . ... ..
N FLORAHOME AREA r .. " E \_ .--- ;[ .
F e PEAT AR EAtS A F .10 D. o i, .

T O. . .- ......f. .. ..-.
,, - -TAT FL RD ,\--- '-1 - --V.-

Fig.ue 1 .. -Peatdepo Sits Win F l o ,i a. F .i 1946)

Fgr13 Peat depsits Fi Fm a, 16.
Fiue 3 PeatE dRepoit inNG Flrd .(rm ai,14 )



Figure 14. Fuel grade peat deposits in Florida. (From Griffin, et al.,


rk, I



*.g BP

Figure 15. Peat deposits in Florida. (From State of Florida Gover-
nor's Energy Office, 1981).

between 12 to 20 feet above mean sea level (M.S.L.) (Parker, 1974). The
water level in the upper Everglades rose and fell in response to the fluctu-
ations of Lake Okeechobee.
In the wet season, most of the Everglades was inundated much of the
time. When the water level of Lake Okeechobee reached about 14.6 feet
(M.S.L.), two separate segments of the lake shore would begin overflow-
ing into the Everglades. At about 18 feet (M.S.L.), the entire southern
shore (30 miles) overflowed, pouring a flood into the upper Everglades
(Parker, 1974). It is important to note, however, that losses due to
evapotranspiration are estimated to have been as high as 82 percent.
Thus, flood water from Lake Okeechobee most probably did not travel
the entire length of the Everglades, but rather local precipitation caused
the inundation (Parker, 1974). This mass of water flowed sluggishly to


the Gulf and has come to be described as sheet flow (Parker, 1974). The
chronic inundation allowed the accumulation and preservation of the
organic soils and peats which characterize the highly productive Ever-
glades Agricultural Area.
In about 1880, Hamilton Disston entered into a contract by which he
would drain land on the upper Kissimmee River and receive as compensa-
tion half of the land he drained. His success was debatable (Tebeau,
1974). The history of early drainage efforts is a history of inadequate
technical expertise and insecure funding. The scope of the drainage issue
was continually underestimated. Disastrous floods associated with hurri-
canes in 1926 and 1928 moved the Federal Government to take action.
The extensive floods of 1947 and 1948 made it obvious that water
control had not yet been established and set the stage for the interven-
tion of the Army Corps of Engineers (Tebeau, 1974).
In 1947, most of south Florida was flooded for several months. The
U.S. Congress, in response to the continuing water-control problems,
passed the Flood Control Act of June 30, 1948. This action directed the
Army Corps of Engineers to plan, design and construct a massive project
which would ultimately solve water problems in all or parts of 18 coun-
ties in central and south Florida (Snyder, et al., 1978). In the plan pro-
posed by the Army Corps of Engineers, major concern was devoted to
the protection of life and property along the lower east coast of Florida.
The first phase of the project involved building an artificial levee from
Lake Okeechobee to about Homestead in order to confine flood waters to
the Everglades. The project was also designed to provide water control
for soil, water conservation and farming (Snyder, et al., 1978).
After studies by both the United States Department of Agriculture and
the University of Florida, the lands of the present "Everglades Agricul-
tural Area" were set aside for agricultural development. The organic soils
of the Agricultural Area were the only soils of sufficient depth and of the
proper type to support cultivation for a period of time sufficient to justify
development (Snyder, et al., 1978). It is important to note that when the
Everglades Agricultural Area was being planned it was recognized that
subsidence of organic soil would occur and that the area could not sup-
port cultivation indefinitely (Snyder, et al., 1978).

Crops and Soils of the Everglades Agricultural Area

The Florida Everglades comprises the single largest body of organic
soils in the world, 1,976,800 acres (Shih, 1980). The Everglades Agri-
cultural Area consists of 765,700 acres of fertile organic soil. Winter
vegetables from the Agricultural Area include sweet-corn, celery, rad-
ishes, leaf crops, carrots and beans. In addition, lands of the agricultural
tract are used for sugar cane, pasture and turf (Shih, 1980). Sugar cane
is the dominant crop with cash receipts of $215 million in 1977- 1978
(Snyder, et al., 1978).
The proximity of the Florida Agricultural Area to the south.shore of








L-4 S-8\\



Figure 16. Location map of the Everglades Agricultural Area. (Modi-
fied from Snyder, et al., 1978).

Lake Okeechobee is not coincidence (Figure 16). Before the activities of
man altered the tendency of Lake Okeechobee to overflow along its
southern edge, silt, clay, and organic colloids were mixed with dead
plants to form muck. In this way, the mucks became enriched in the
microelements that peat lacks (Stephens, 1974), enchancing the mucks
as an agricultural growth medium.







The soils of the Everglades Agricultural Area are classified by soil sci-
entists on the basis of the percentage of inorganic matter they contain
and their thickness. The Torry Series soils occur within two to five miles
of Lake Okeechobee. They contain black organic layers more than 51
inches thick and are characterized by a range of 35 percent to 70 percent
mineral matter (mostly the clay minerals sepiolite and montmorillonite)
(Snyder, et al., 1978) and are not considered peats according to ASTM
standards. The Terra Ceia, Pahokee, Lauderhill and Dania soils are dark
organic soils which are differentiated from one another based on their
thickness above bedrock. The Terra Ceia soils are the thickest, with the
Pahokee, Lauderhill and Dania becoming successively thinner. As the
process of subsidence occurs, Terra Ceia soils will become Pahokee soils
since Pahokee soils differ from Terra Ceia soils only in their thickness
(Snyder, et al., 1978).


Subsidence refers to the loss of thickness which is incurred by organic
soils when they are drained. A group of physical processes are responsi-
ble for subsidence, including 1) shrinkage due to dessication, 2) consoli-
dation by loss of the buoyant force of groundwater and loading, or both,
3) compaction by tillage, 4) wind erosion, 5) burning and 6) biochemical
oxidation (Stephens, 1974). The processes of drying, consolidation and
compaction do not result in actual loss of soil (Shih, 1980). Stephens and
Johnson (1951) documented an increase of oven dried weight for Ever-
glades peat from about 9 pounds to about 16 pounds per cubic foot after
cultivation. This increase in density corresponds to a decrease although
there is little actual loss of soil.
The processes of wind erosion, burning and oxidation do, however,
result in the actual loss of organic soils (Shih, 1980). Wind erosion is
thought to have minor effects in the Everglades Agricultural Area.
Numerous charcoal-rich lenses which represent ancient fires have been
found at depth in cores through the organic soils of the Everglades and
coastal swamps (Cohen, 1974). Attempts to correlate charcoal layers
from core to core were futile suggesting that fires were not widespread
geographically. The fires were confined mainly to sawgrass-dominated
peats. Modern observation indicated that fires are very common in saw-
grass communities and it is suggested that sawgrass may be especially
well-adapted to survival of fires (Cohen, 1974).
The most serious cause of long term subsidence in the Everglades is
biochemical oxidation. Biochemical oxidation has been responsible for
55 to 75 percent of the total soil loss in the upper Everglades Agricultural
Area (Stephens, 1974). Although original plans for drainage in the Ever-
glades recognized that subsidence would occur, the causes were appar-
ently misunderstood (Stephens and Johnson, 1951). Shrinkage of origi-
nal peat due to drainage was taken into account, but the slow continual
loss of peat due to biochemical oxidation was not considered.


The organic soils of the Everglades are a collection of organic particles
and mineral particles which are interspersed with void spaces or pores.
When these pores are filled with water the micro-organisms which
actively decompose the organic soil are unable to function or function at
a greatly reduced rate (Snyder, et al., 1978). This is the condition that
allowed organic soils to accumulate before modification of natural drain-
age patterns. Biochemical oxidation of organic soils is facilitated by
warm temperatures, low water tables, high pH and high organic content
(Stephens, 1974).
Drained organic soils of the Florida Everglades Agricultural Area sub-
side at an average rate of approximately one inch/year (Stephens, 1974).
This rate varies with variation of depth to the water table. Rates of
subsidence for experimental plots with water table depths of 12 inches,
24 inches and 36 inches were measured to be 0.6 inches per year, 1.4
inches per year and 2.3 inches per year, respectively.
Subsidence has been documented in the Everglades using repeated
surveys of ground elevation along certain lines. In Figures 17, 18 and 19
(Stephens and Johnson, 1951), the solid lines represent the original
elevation of the surface of the ground and the elevation as measured in
1940. The dashed lines indicate the topographic elevations predicted
from subsidence rates. Stephens (1974) notes that subsidence was
measured to be 33.5 inches between 1941 and 1966 in the upper Ever-
glades which may be compared to a predicted subsidence loss of 33.0
inches in 25 years (Stephens and Johnson, 1951).
Rates of subsidence in the Everglades Agricultural Area vary with the
depth to which the water table is maintained. The depth at which the
water table is maintained depends on optimum conditions for each land
use. Snyder, et al. (1978) note that most vegetable crops produce high
yields when the water table is maintained at 24 inches below the sur-
face. Sugar cane normally requires a water table depth which is greater
than 24 inches; and in certain organic soils, a water table depth of 30 to
36 inches greatly improves sugar cane quality. Water tables for cattle
and sod production may be maintained at levels which would be consid-
ered too high for most crops. It is important to note that extremely high
water tables may cause problems specifically related to crop land use
even though high water tables allow maximum soil preservation (Snyder,
et al., 1978).

Conservation Measures

Researchers who have worked in the Everglades Agricultural Area sug-
gest that maintenance of high water tables is the most effective measure
available for conservation of organic soils. Tate (1980) notes that the
only feasible means of controlling subsidence is knowledgeable manipu-
lation of the water table. Snyder, et al. (1978) recommend: "For best
conservation organic soils should be kept flooded whenever not in use.
When soils are used, the water table should be maintained as high as is





0 2 4 6 8 10 MILES

Figure 17. Map of the Everglades Agricultural Area showing the
locations of profile A-A' and B-B'. (Modified from
Stephens and Johnson, 1951).








Profile A-A' across the upper Everglades Agricultural Area showing the original
surface elevation in 1912 and the ground elevation in 1940, from topographical
surveys. Profiles for the years 1970 and 2000 are estimated. (Modified from
Stephens and Johnson, 1951).





-J 16

< 12

w 10

z 8
o 6
> 4



I--^ -


-.S AND:'.



u cr I, ROCK

ui 4 0 > c
x a. z

Figure 18.






|, 1

B B'


12 -

0 8 >

5 0 15 20 25 30

Figure 19. Profile B-B' across the lower Everglades Agricultural Area showing the original
surface elevation in 1912 and the ground elevation in 1940, from topographical
surveys. Profiles for the years 1970 and 2000 are estimated. (Modified from
Stephens and Johnson, 1951).
hi 3 I
2 0

0 5 10 15 20 25 30

Figure 19. Profile B-B' across the lower Everglades Agricultural Area showing the original
surface elevation in 1912 and the ground elevation in 1940, from topographical
surveys. Profiles for the years 1970 and 2000 are estimated. (Modified from
Stephens and Johnson, 1951).


possible for that use". Stephens (1974) lits a number of suggestions
geared toward conservation of organic soil: "(1) provide adequate water
control facilities for keeping water tables as high as crop and field
requirements will tolerate; (2) make productive use of drained lands as
soon as possible; and (3) intensify research studies to develop practices
to prolong the life of the soils".
It has been suggested that extending the life of organic soils by plow-
ing under cover crops or litter (Snyder, et al., 1978; Stephens, 1974) is
probably not an effective conservation measure. The rate at which peat
forms is extremely slow and the volume of plant litter produced is very
small. Snyder, et al. (1978) discuss an example which clarifies this rela-
tionship. Sugar cane produces an amount of top growth exceeded by
few, if any, plants. An average cane crop (30 tons/acre) is estimated to
contain approximately eight tons of dry matter. If all of the dry matter
from an entire crop were added to the soil, it could be assumed that
about half of it would be decomposed rapidly. One acre-inch of top soil is
about the amount lost to subsidence each year in the Everglades Agricul-
tural Area. That amount of soil weighs approximately 50 tons. Thus, four
tons are replaced each year, which is still only approximately 1/12 the
amount which is lost.

The Near Future of the Everglades Agricultural Area

Snyder, et al. (1978) have included a discussion of land use in the
Everglades Agricultural Area through the year 2000. It is noted that the
predictions of Stephens (1951) have proved reliable (compare Figures 20
and 21). These predictions are presented in Table 2 (Snyder, et al.,
1978). Although land elevations are shown through the year 2000, sub-
sidence will continue. By the year 2000, only approximately 80,000
acres of soil three feet in depth or deeper will remain. It is predicted that
sugar cane acreage will decrease, pasture acreage will increase signifi-
cantly and vegetable acreage will remain essentially unchanged assum-
ing the economic viability of such operations. By the year 2000, over
500,000 acres will be less than three feet in thickness. Approximately
half of this will be less than a foot in depth (Snyder, et al., 1978). The
depth of three feet is significant because, at depths of less than three
feet, the use of mole drains becomes impractical. The soils which have
subsided to depths of less than one foot face an uncertain fate. Snyder,
et al. (1978) suggest that while some of those soils may be suitable for
pasture, the soils may be abandoned for agricultural uses. It is also sug-
gested that the remaining soils and the existing water-control structures
be used to produce aquatic crops. The authors suggest that such a usage
could greatly extend the useful agricultural life of the soils.




0 2 4 6 8 10 MILES

Figure 20. Soil depths predicted for 1980 for the Everglades Agri-
cultureal Area. Compare these with Figures 18 and 19.
(From Griffin, et al., 1982).





......... 0n

*.**.* mn

. . . . .o


Figure 21. Thicknesses of soils in the Everglades Agricultural Area as determined by a
recent study. (Modified from Griffin, et al., 1982).
~ 0
. . . . . . .. . .

..,..... .


Figure 21. Thicknesses of soils in the Everglades Agricultural Area as determined by a
recent study. (Modif ied f rom G rif fin, et al., 1982).


Table 2. Proportions of the Organic soils of the Everglades Agricultural
Area falling into categories based on thickness (after Snyder,
YEAR 0 to 1 ft. 1 to 3 ft. 3 to 5 ft. over 5 ft.
1912 0 1 3 95
1925 1 3 7 89
1940 1 7 14 85
1950 2 7 28 78
1960 4 12 28 55
1970 11 16 41 45
1980 17 28 41 14
1990 27 28 39 7
2000 45 42 9 4


Kenneth M. Campbell

Mining Methodology Associated with the Use of Peat for Fuel

Recently, several potential commercial users have been investigating
Florida's peat as a fuel source. This interest is prompted by the rising
cost of traditional fuels. Preliminary proposals for the use of peat as a fuel
in Florida suggest that peat will be air dried and burned directly. This
usage will require comparatively large amounts of peat which must be
dried before it is burned (this drying is in addition to the moisture reduc-
tion which accompanies bog drainage) (U.S. Department of Energy,
1979). The drainage of a peatland is an integral and necessary first step
in any large-scale peat mining operation utilizing milled peat or sod peat
mining methods. Moisture must be reduced to approximately 90 percent
for the bog to be considered workable (i.e., able to bear the weight of
Drainage is accomplished by construction of a system of ditches and
waterways which are designed to capture water and route it away from
the portion of the bog to be mined (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979). If
surface streams traverse the bog, they are diverted around it. Eventually,
surface vegetation and stumps must be removed.
There are several mining methods in common use in Europe. The man-
ual method is one in which peat is cut into blocks by hand, removed from
the bog for air drying and finally burned for home heating and cooking
(U.S. Department of Energy, 1979). Manual peat harvesting is labor
intensive and probably will not become important in Florida.
The sod peat mining method is one in which a trench is cut into a
previously prepared field. These trenches are cut by excavator/
macerators which are specifically designed to cut, macerate, and


extrude sods onto a conveyor which deposits them onto the field for air
drying. At a moisture content of about 75 percent the sods are win-
drowed. Windrows are periodically split and turned to facilitate drying
and at about 55 percent moisture, sods are considered dry and removed
for storage (Aspinall, 1980).
The milled peat mining method is one in which a peat layer one-quarter
to 2-inches thick is milled or shredded from the prepared surface of the
bog. The peat is periodically harrowed to expedite drying. At a moisture
content of 50 to 55 percent, the dried peat is pushed into ridges where it
is collected for transportation to storage facilities (Aspinall, 1980).
Several methods of hydraulic peat mining are in development. Exam-
ples of these processes are the slurry ditch, hydro peat and slurry pond
methods (Aspinall, 1980). In each of these methods, the surface must be
cleared; but drainage is not necessary.
The slurry ditch and hydro peat methods utilize high pressure water
guns to cut peat from a ditch face. The difference between the methods
lies in the post-mining dewatering process. The slurry ditch method uti-
lizes a dewatering apparatus; whereas, the hydro peat method is dewa-
tered by pumping the slurry to a drying field where it is spread to dry
(Minnesota DNR, 1981). The slurry pond method utilizes mechanical
excavators or a dredge to remove peat. Mining equipment is mounted on
a barge which floats on a pond excavated within the peat deposits as the
mining progresses.
The ultimate success of wet mining methods will depend on the suc-
cessful development of very large scale dewatering processes and upon
the environmental impacts of the mining process (U.S. Department of
Energy, 1979). These may be the preferred methods, however, in areas
where drainage of peat deposits is technically difficult or environmentally

Mining Methodology Associated with the Agricultural Use of Peat

In order to obtain current information on Florida's active peat opera-
tions for the present study, the staff of the Bureau of Geology designed
and conducted a survey of producers. In the first stage of this survey, a
list of peat producers was compiled. In an effort to make this list as
comprehensive as possible, a number of sources were consulted includ-
ing: existing lists of producers (Florida Bureau of Geology, United States
Bureau of Mines, United States Mines Safety and Health Administration);
agencies contacting peat producers in conjunction with regular profes-
sional services (county agricultural agents, Florida Department of Agri-
culture); and numerous telephone directories. In the second stage of the
survey, peat producers were contacted by telephone and field visits were
arranged. The information which follows was contributed on a voluntary
basis by producers who were contacted during field visits.
Peat extraction methods vary with the size and nature of the deposit
being mined. Most deposits are mined using conventional types of earth-


moving and excavating equipment. The machinery used includes drag-
lines, backhoes, grade-alls, front-end loaders and hydraulic excavators.
The majority of companies use a dragline for mining. A shredder is used
to pulverize the peat.
Most companies drain the immediate area of mining by ditching and
pumping which enables the deposit to be mined by dry processes.
Approximately one-third of the companies contacted conduct all or part
of their mining below the watertable.
Two companies utilize a variety of the milled peat mining process.
After surface clearing and ditching is complete, the surface peat is pul-
verized with a rotovater. The pulverized material is dried in the sun and is
turned by discing to help promote drying. The dried material is mechani-
cally windrowed using a front-end loader or bulldozer and is then stock-
piled or loaded for transport. There are no companies currently mining
peat by the sod peat method in Florida.


Kenneth M. Campbell

Industrial use of peat can be divided into two major categories: extrac-
tive and non-extractive (Minnesota DNR, 1981). The extractive uses
include direct combustion, gasification, industrial chemicals, horticul-
tural products and sewage treatment. The non-extractive uses include
agriculture, energy crops and sewage treatment (Minnesota DNR,

Preparation of Peat for Industrial Utilization

For most applications, peat must be dewatered before processing.
Uses for biogasification, some energy crops and sewage treatment proc-
esses do not require dewatering.
Solar drying in the field is energy efficient but is not suitable to wet
mining processes or to all mining plans. Its feasibility is strongly depen-
dent on climate, especially rainfall. Alternative dewatering processes
include mechanical presses and thermal dryers, in addition to pretreat-
ment processes such as wet carbonization, wet oxidation and solvent
Mechanical methods are limited in the amount of water they can
remove. Most of the water contained in peat is held in chemical bonds,
colloidal suspensions and small pores in the organic matter. Mechanical
methods may reduce water content to 70 percent at best (Minnesota
DNR, 1981). Thermal dryers can be utilized to reduce the moisture con-
tent further. The efficiency of mechanical dewatering is greatly
enhanced by pretreatment processes such as wet carbonization, wet
oxidation and solvent extraction. Peat can be mechanically dewatered to


approximately 30 percent water content after wet oxidation (Mensinger,
et al., 1980 in Minnesota DNR, 1981, p. 30).
Wet carbonization consists of heating a slurry of peat and water
(approximately three percent solids) to 300 to 4000F at 50 to 100 atmo-
spheres of pressure for 30 minutes. A "peat coal" with a heat value of
12,000 to 14,000 BTU/lb dry weight is obtained after the liquid is
removed (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979).
Wet oxidation is an established process for the oxidation of many wet
organic materials. Air or oxygen is pressure fed to wet peat in a closed,
heated vessel. Combustion is rapid and is controlled by the rate of supply
of the oxygen or air. The process can be stopped after enough heat has
been generated to carbonize the remaining peat or can be carried to
completion to produce energy (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979).
Solvent extraction reacts a heated peat-water slurry under pressure
with an organic solvent. The water is extracted from the peat by the
solvent. Subsequent to cooling, the absorbed water is stripped from the
solvent and after treatment is disposed of as waste.

Fuel Uses


Direct combustion of peat is a method of producing energy which has
been utilized on a commercial scale in Ireland, Finland and the Soviet
Union for several decades. The Soviet Union had installed an electric
power station fueled entirely by peat as early as 1914 (U.S. Department
of Energy, 1979).
The U.S. Department of Energy has developed several criteria for fuel-
grade peat for use in its peat program. The criteria are: 1) heat value
greater than 8,000 BTU/lb (dry weight), 2) greater than 80 acres of peat
per square mile, 3) peat depth greater than four feet, and 4) ash content
less than 25 percent (Minnesota DNR, 1981). Hemic peats are generally
the most suitable for direct combustion usage. The more decomposed
peats (sapric) have been carbonized to a greater extent but often have
larger ash contents which reduces their fuel value. Fibric peats have been
less carbonized and thus have lower heating values.
Direct combustion of peat is accomplished in boilers designed or retro-
fitted for either peat fuel entirely or mixed fuel feed. Boiler design must
accommodate the characteristics of peat fuel: low energy density, high
moisture content. Both of these characteristics result in increased cost
(approximately 50 percent greater) of the boiler and feed system com-
pared with a coal or oil fired boiler of the same capacity (U.S. Department
of Energy, 1979). Grate fired and fluidized-bed boilers require pelletized
or briquetted feed. Pulverized-fired boilers require peat ground to be par-
ticle size compatible with the combuster design.
Direct combustion techniques can result in partial oxidation of the peat


and generation of synthetic fuel gases. Reduced oxygen input and/or
water vapor injection are required to generate the fuel gases.


Peat is very reactive during gasification. Gasification can yield low to
medium BTU fuel gases, synthesis gases (those which can be further
upgraded by hydrocracking), fuel liquids, ammonia, sulfur and oil bypro-
ducts (napthalene, benzene and phenol) (U.S. Department of Energy,
1979; Minnesota DNR, 1981).
Several basic designs of gasifiers are feasible for peat gasification,
however, data for peat gasification is primarily limited to laboratory scale
operations (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979). Entrained flow and fluid
bed gasifiers appear attractive. An example is the peat gas process
developed by the Institute of Gas Technology. Dry peat is fed to the
gasifier, and heated under pressure with a hydrogen rich gas. The carbon
in the peat reacts with the hydrogen to form hydrocarbon gases (primar-
ily methane and ethane). The gases produced can be upgraded to pipe-
line quality (Minnesota DNR, 1981). Byproduct oils (benzene, napthalene
and phenols), ammonia and sulfur are extracted in turn from the liquids
which are condensed during various gas upgrading processes (Minne-
sota DNR, 1981).
The ratio of gaseous to liquid products is controlled by changes in
temperature, pressure and length of reaction time. Increased tempera-
ture and reaction time lead to gaseous product increases. With higher
temperature and longer reaction times, the large hydrocarbon molecules
comprising the liquid products are hydrocracked into lighter gaseous
molecules (U.S. Department of Energy, 1979).


Biogasification is an anaerobic fermentation process. An important
advantage of biogasification is that dewatering is not required. Biogasifi-
cation is a two-stage process. In the first step, the peat-water slurry is
partially oxidized to break it down to simple compounds. Aldehydes,
ketones, organic acids and esters are the main products at this stage.
The pH is adjusted and the mixture is transferred to the fermenter (anaer-
obic biological reactor) where bacteria catalyze methane production.
Methane and carbon dioxide are produced in stoichometric proportions
(U.S. Department of Energy, 1979) with up to 95 percent of the material
being converted to methane or carbon dioxide (Minnesota DNR, 1981).
The resulting gas can be upgraded to substitute natural gas (SNG) by
scrubbing the carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide from the methane gas
(U.S. Department of Energy, 1979).
The waste material from the fermentation process contains undigested
peat components, inorganic residues and residual bacteria. These materi-
als can be utilized for soil conditioners, animal feeds, or can be concen-


treated for disposal. Excess water is recycled to the fermenter (U.S.
Department of Energy, 1979).

Industrial Chemicals

Peat has been utilized as a raw material for the production of industrial
chemicals for many years in Europe and the Soviet Union. U.S. interest
has developed only recently. Peat bitumens, carbohydrates and humic
acids are extracted by processes at low to moderate temperatures. Peat
coke, peat tar and activated charcoal are produced by pyrolysis. The use
of peat for industrial chemicals does not pose major technical problems.
The technology has been developed in Europe and the Soviet Union. The
chemicals produced are similar to petroleum derived products. As petro-
leum becomes more expensive, the incentives to utilize peat will increase
(Minnesota DNR, 1981).


Peat bitumens are those peat components which are soluble in nonpo-
lar organic solvents. The yield of bitumens depends on the extracting
solvent chosen. Yield increases from low to high in the following list of
solvents: petroleum ether, gasoline, dichloroethane, benzene,
ethanol:benzene (1:1) (Fuchsman, 1978). Although various solvents are
utilized for analytical purposes, gasoline is the solvent used in commer-
cial processes. Benzene is not used because of health hazards
(Bel'Kevich, 1977 in Fuchsman, 1978). The peat bitumens of commer-
cial interest are peat waxes and resins. The waxes are the most impor-
tant commercially (Fuchsman, 1978).
Peat, suitable for commercial wax production, contains at least five
percent gasoline extractable material and has an ash content less than
10 percent (Lishtvan and Korol, 1975, in Fuchsman, 1978). The wax
content of peat is higher in more highly decomposed peats (Naucke,
1966, in Fuchsman, 1978) particularly those with remains of shrubs and
trees (Fuchsman, 1978).
Dried peat particles in the size range of 0.02 inches-0.2 inches are
required for efficient solvent extraction. Wax extraction utilizes gasoline
as the solvent and extracts most of the wax but relatively few of the
resins (Bel'Kevich, 1977, in Fuchsman, 1978). Gasoline and peat are
mixed at 20:1. Approximately five percent of the gasoline is lost in the
process, with the rest being recycled after wax removal by solvent evap-
The crude wax contains some resins. Resins are partially removed by
treatment with an appropriate solvent (cold acetone, alcohol and ethyl
acetate) (Fuchsman, 1978). Further purification is accomplished by
treatment with potassium dichromate and sulfuric acid at
1670F-2300F. The result is a fairly hard, light tan wax (Bel'Kevich,
1977, in Fuchsman, 1978).


Peat waxes are produced commercially only in the Soviet Union where
they are used as release agents in foundry castings and on polyethylene
surfaces. Peat waxes are similar to montan wax which is derived from
lignite. Montan wax is a substitute for beeswax and carnauba wax and is
used as an industrial lubricant and as an ingredient in shoe and furniture
polish, electrical insulating materials and in candles (Minnesota DNR,
Peat resins are the primary byproducts of peat wax production. The
resins are of importance as a source of steroids for use by the pharma-
ceutical industry (Minnesota DNR, 1981).


Peat carbohydrates consist primarily of cellulose and related materials
such as hemicellulose and starches (Fuchsman, 1978). Sugars are pro-
duced by acid hydrolysis for use in yeast culture. Yeast culture can be
optimized for the production of single cell protein or for the fermentation
of alcohol (Fuchsman, 1978).
Peat suitable for carbohydrate hydrolysis, according to Soviet criteria
are: Sphagnum peat with degree of decomposition less than 20 percent,
ash content less than five percent and at least 24 percent of the dry
weight of the peat recoverable as fermentable sugars from the easily
hydrolyzable carbohydrates (or 45 percent if difficulty hydrolyzable car-
bohydrates are included) (Fuchsman, 1978). Cellulose is classified as
being difficult to hydrolyze. The preferred Soviet process (Ishino, 1976,
in Fuchsman, 1978) is as follows: peat with a maximum grain size of 0.4
inches is slurried with water to 7 20 percent solids and mixed. The
suspension is then pumped at 5-7 atmospheres of pressure and con-
centrated sulfuric acid is added to give an overall acid concentration of
0.25- 1 percent. The slurry is heated to 2840F 3380F by steam injec-
tion and discharged to atmospheric pressure and reacted for 10-30
minutes. Volatile matter is flashed off, the fluid is diluted and reacts for
an additional 10 minutes at 2840F to allow hydrolysis completion. Solids
are then removed by sedimentation centrifuge or filtration. Yield by this
process is 34-40 percent of the peat dry weight.


Fuchsman (1978) describes humic acid as "alkali-soluble, acid-
insoluble organic compounds, excluding bitumens and carbohydrates".
There are several lines of chemical modification of humic acid: pyrolysis,
oxidation and reduction (Fuchsman, 1978).
To date, there are no large scale commercial uses for humic acid.
Present industrial uses for humic acids include sizing for paper, tanning
agents, in fertilizers and as viscosity modifiers for oil well drilling mud


(Fuchsman, 1978). Potential uses include the production of plastics and
synthetic fibers, components for paints and adhesive formulations and
flocculants or thickeners in water purification systems. These uses are
based primarily on the adsorption and ion exchange properties of humic
acids (Fuchsman, 1978).


Peat coke, peat tar and activated carbon are produced by the process
of pyrolysis. Pyrolysis consists of decomposition of organic substances
by heat in the absence of air. When carried to a high enough temperature
and for long enough time, the process yields a carbon residue (peat
coke), a water immiscible condensate (peat tar) and non-condensable
gases which can be utilized as fuel gases.
Peat suitable for coking requires a relatively high carbon content (high
level of decomposition), low ash content and low phosphorous content
(Fuchsman, 1978). High carbon content is necessary for acceptable
yields. Phosphorous and ash degrade the product quality.
Several factors influence the yield of pyrolysis products. Coke yields
are increased with more highly decomposed peats and slower rates of
heating. Peat tar and gases generated by the pyrolysis process are often
recycled as fuel for the coking process.
Activated carbon is produced from peat coke by treating coke with
steam at 1,6320F- 2,0120F. The reaction forms hydrogen gas and car-
bon monoxide which has the physical effect of expanding the pores in
the peat coke, greatly increasing the surface area available for adsorption
(Norit, N.V. (n.d.), in Fuchsman, 1978).
Peat coke is utilized to form high purity silicon for the electronics
industry and as a reducing agent in electric smelting furnaces especially
in the production of ferrochrome and ferrosilicon alloys (Eckman, 1975,
in Fuchsman, 1978). Peat tars are refined for pesticide and wood pre-
servative use. The primary use, however, is as fuel recycled to the peat
coke production process (Minnesota DNR, 1981).
Activated carbon is utilized for a variety of purposes, all of which take
advantage of the large surface area available for adsorption. Uses include
removal of pollutants from industrial waste gases, as a gas absorber,
deodorizer, and for purification of water and sugar (Fuchsman, 1978).

Use of Peat as a Growth Medium


Essentially all of the peat mined in Florida, at the present time, is used
for horticultural purposes. Peat is used by home owners for soil enhance-
ment, by nurseries and landscapers for potting soils and growing media
for plants, and also as a medium for mushroom and earthworm culture.



Agricultural uses of peat are similar to horticultural uses. The peat is
utilized as a growing medium (soil) for agricultural crops. The material is
not mined, however, drainage is generally necessary to provide the
proper moisture conditions.
Hemic and sapric peats, as well as mucks, are utilized for agricultural
purposes. Fibric peats typically are not suitable due to the low pH (acidic)
which makes nutrients unavailable to many plants (Farnam and Lever,
1980). Large areas of Florida peats and mucks are utilized for agricultural


Growing energy crops for plant biomass production allows peatlands
to be utilized to produce renewable energy sources. Plant biomass can be
harvested and burned directly or can be gasified to produce liquid and
gaseous fuels. Energy crops can be an alternative to conventional mining
(using the peat as a growing medium) or can be utilized as a reclamation
technique on mined out peatlands (Minnesota DNR, 1981).
Plants which may be suitable for energy crop use in wetlands include:
cattails, reeds and sedges, willow, and alder (Minnesota DNR, 1981).
These wetland species have two distinct advantages over conventional
crops for use in biomass energy production: 1) the biomass productivity
of wetland species is often higher than conventional crops (corn, soy-
beans, etc.) and 2) they can be grown in wetlands unsuitable for conven-
tional crop plants and thus do not compete with conventional crop pro-
duction (Minnesota DNR, 1981).

Sewage Treatment

Peat has been utilized in the tertiary treatment of waste water both in
the U.S. and in Europe. The primary objective is to reduce nutrient levels,
primarily phosphorous and nitrogen (Minnesota DNR, 1981).
Phosphorous is removed from solution by bacteria present in that por-
tion of the peat exposed to air. Bacterial metabolism converts the phos-
phorous to insoluble forms. Chemical reactions with calcium, aluminum
and iron present in the peat also remove phosphorous from solution
(Nichols, 1980).
Nitrogen is metabolized by anaerobic bacteria, converting nitrate in the
waste water to gaseous nitrogen which is released to the atmosphere
(Nichols, 1980). Additional nutrients are removed through uptake by
plants growing on the peat surface.
Three methods are commonly used for the tertiary treatments of waste
water. Two utilize the peat in place, the third utilizes excavated peat
(Minnesota DNR, 1981). If peat is to be used in place, waste water may
be introduced in one of two ways. The waste water can be introduced


directly to the bog surface and allowed to filter through the peat or it may
be introduced to a ditched and drained peat deposit. Introduction of
waste water to a ditched and drained deposit would increase the volume
of peat exposed to the waste water, increasing residence time and allow-
ing more efficient nutrient uptake (Nichols, 1980). The third method
involves a built up filter bed of peat, sand and gravel. The effluent is
applied to the filter surface by sprinklers. Generally, the surface of the
filter would be seeded with a suitable sedge or grass to remove additional
nutrients (Minnesota DNR, 1981).
Peat water treatment systems and experimentation have not been con-
ducted for enough time to determine the period of time over which it can
effectively remove nutrients before it becomes saturated. Environmental
effects, therefore, must be strictly monitored (Minnesota DNR, 1981).


Kenneth M. Campbell

Peat is currently mined in 12 Florida counties (Figure 22). In each of
these counties, the mining companies provide jobs, pay state and local
taxes, require the services of various support industries and provide a
valuable product to nurseries and individuals.

Production, Value and Price of Peat

The U.S. Bureau of Mines reports an average 1982 price for Florida
peat of $13.12 per short ton. 1983 prices quoted by mining companies
range from $8.50 to $18.00 per cubic yard of peat with the most com-
mon price being $10.00 to $10.50 per cubic yard. Blended topsoils
range from $11.00 to $20.00 per cubic yard. If one ton of peat is
assumed to occupy 2.3 cubic yards, the $10.50 per cubic yard price is
equivalent to $24.15 per short ton. Bagged peat prices are higher and are
in the range of $45.00 per ton.
Florida ranked second in peat production nationally in 1982 (Boyle and
Hendry, 1984). The U.S. Bureau of Mines (B.O.M.) reported peat produc-
tion in 1982 as 120,000 short tons, with a value of $1,575,000 dollars
(Figure 23). The average price in 1982 was $13.12 per short ton. The
above figures represent a 25 percent drop in production and a 47 percent
drop in value from 1981.
The B.O.M. production and value figures do not represent the com-
plete picture. The B.O.M. reported peat production from four counties in
'1982. Of the 10 companies on the B.O.M. peat producer list, only six are
still active. The authors have compiled a list of 21 peat producers,
located in 12 counties. The actual peat production in the state must be
significantly higher than reported by the B.O.M.


Figure 22. Location of current peat producers in Florida. (From a
Bureau of Geology survey for this report).

Location of Peat Producers

Peat production is concentrated in central peninsular Florida, in Sum-
ter, Lake, Orange, Pasco, Hillsborough, Polk and Highlands counties.
Additional producers are located in Madison County (Northwest penin-
sula), Clay and Putnam counties (Northeast peninsula) and in Palm Beach
and Dade counties (south Florida). The authors did not locate any active
peat producers in the panhandle of Florida.

Location of Markets

The majority of Florida peat producers market bulk peat and blend
potting soils for regional or statewide distribution. Two companies have
only local markets, 11 have regional markets and six have statewide


zF -
4 >
120 2 4

80 1.6

40 8


Figure 23.

Production and value of peat in Florida, 1972-1983. (Compiled from Minerals
Yearbooks 1972-1981, U.S. Bureau of Mines; and The Mineral Industry of Florida,
1982, U.S. Bureau of Mines; and Mineral Industry Surveys, Annual Preliminary
Mineral Industry of Florida, 1983, U.S. Bureau of Mines.)



markets. Two companies market their product outside of Florida, primar-
ily in the southeast United States. One of the companies, however, ships
bulk peat to Texas where it is bagged for retail sale.

Use of Peat

The principal use of peat mined in Florida is as a soil conditioner, with
large amounts being used for lawns, golf courses and in nurseries and
The majority of Florida peat production is marketed as a bulk product
(typically truck loads of 30 50 cubic yard) for nursery and landscaping
purposes, with the remainder bagged for the retail market. The peat may
be marketed as is (peat only) or blended with other materials to form
topsoil and potting soil products. Blended products are generally custom
mixed to the customers' specifications. Quartz sand, sawdust and wood
chips are typical ingredients added in order to improve the drainage char-
acteristics of the peat. The nurseries may blend their own potting soil
mixes using bulk peat purchased from mining companies. The bulk mate-
rials may be utilized as a growing medium for nursery plants, or bagged
for retail sale.
Peat from several Florida deposits has been tested for suitability as an
alternative boiler fuel. Although tests have indicated that peat can be an
effective and price competitive fuel, there is no current peat usage for
fuel in Florida.


Kenneth M. Campbell

County, state and federal permits may be required in order to open a
new peat mine. The process is very site specific and varies from county
to county. Under some conditions, permits may not be required by any

County Level Permits

Operational peat mines are located in 12 Florida counties. In most of
the counties, zoning regulations are the only county regulations which
apply to opening a peat mine. A summary of county permitting processes
is shown in Table 3.

State Level Permitting

The primary state agencies with permitting responsibility with respect
to peat mining are the Department of Environmental Regulation (DER)
and the five individual Water Management Districts. The Department of


Table 3. Summary of County Level Permitting Requirements (Prepared by Bureau of Geology Staff).
Title of Permit Administrative Hearing Hearing
County Ordinance Required Agency Required Body Comments

Clay Clay Co. Zoning
Ordinance 82-45

Dade County Zoning

Highlands County Zoning

Hillsborough County Zoning Code
and Borrow Pit


Lake Co. Zoning
Regulations 1971 -6

Borrow Pit Planning, Building
and Zoning Comm.

Excavation Building & Zoning
Permit Department

Special Planning and
Exception Zoning Department

Borrow Pit




Yes Zoning Board
of Adjustment

Yes Zoning Appeals

Yes Board of

Mining is allowed only as a special
exception to zoning regulations. A
certified survey and site plan are
required. County regulations specify
setback and sloping requirements.
Public hearing approval by Z.A.B. is
required to obtain excavation
permit. No specific zoning required.
Permitted in industrial zoned areas;
and in agricultural zoned areas after
a special exception is granted.

Yes County Requires proper zoning, the
Commission issuance Borrow Pit Permit & the
approval of the Hillsborough County
Environmental Protection

Yes Planning &




Allowable only agricultural zoned
areas after issuance of Conditional
Use Permit. Site plan is required.
Before final operational permit will
be granted all other permits required
(Ex. DER) must have been

Table 3 continued.
Title of Permit Administrative Hearing Hearing
County Ordinance Required Agency Required Body Comments

Orange Excavation & Fill
Ordinance 71-11

Palm Beach Planning & Zoning

Excavation County
Permit Engineering


Pasco County Mining Mining
Ordinance Permit

Polk County Zoning Conditi
Ordinance & Flood Use
Protection & Surface
Water Management
Code (81 82)

Putnam Zoning Ordinance of
Putnam County
75- 5 Amend


Sumter County Development Excavation
Code Permit

Planning and
Zoning Department

County Planning

onal Planning

Building, Zoning &
Planning, Zoning &

Yes County Not zoning dependent, not allowed
Commission in planning conservation areas.

Yes County Land must be zoned agricultural.
Commission Site plan must be approved.

Yes County Mining ordinance refers specifically
Commission to inorganic materials, peat may not
be covered county source did not
know. If covered, mining &
reclamation plan, evidence of fiscal
responsibility and prior approval of
all necessary state and federal
permits would be required.
Yes County Allowed in Rural Conservation
Commission Districts only after public hearing
approval for conditional use. Polk
county is not actively permitting
present peat operation & no new
permits have been submitted, but
the County has the option to do so.
Yes Zoning Board Allowable as a special exception in
agricultural zoned area only.


Allowable in A-5 zones: Require site
plan & prior approval of any
necessary state & federal permits.









Community Affairs has jurisdiction over Developments of Regional
Impact (DRI).


A peat mining operation falls under DER jurisdiction only if either of
two conditions are met. These criteria are: 1) the operation is located in
or would affect surface "Waters of the State", or 2) there is water
discharged off the property or to groundwater. If neither of these condi-
tions apply, then DER does not require a permit (Mark Latch, DER, per-
sonal communication, 1984).
The procedure involved is as follows: A site plan is submitted to DER.
DER makes a determination as to whether there is jurisdiction and per-
mits are required. If DER does have jurisdiction, the next step is to apply
for the applicable permits. Any or all of the following permits may be
required by DER depending on the specific site conditions and the site
plan proposed: Dredge and Fill, Stormwater, Groundwater, Industrial
Waste Water Discharge, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
certification, Power Plant Siting and Air Quality.


Four of the five Water Management Districts in Florida have peat mines
located within their boundaries. They are the Suwannee River, St. Johns
River, Southwest Florida and South Florida Water Management Districts.
The permitting required by each management district is discussed below.

Suwannee River Water Management District

Any wells drilled for water withdrawal or monitoring purposes require
well construction permits. Water use permits are required for all uses of
water whether the withdrawal is through wells or from surface water
bodies. A water use permit is not required for monitor wells (Ron Ceryak,
SRWMD, personal communication, 1984).

St. Johns River Water Management District

There are four permits which may be required by the SJRWMD. They
are the Consumptive Use Permit (40C-2), Water Well Construction Per-
mit (40C-3), Management and Storage of Surface Waters Permit (40C-4)
and Works of the District Permit (40C-6). The permits and pertinent
thresholds are summarized below by Frank Meeker (SJRWMD, Division
of Permitting, personal communication, 1984).


A Consumptive Use Permit (CUP) is required to put down a well if it
meets certain thresholds. These thresholds are:

1. If the average annual daily withdrawal exceeds 1,000,000 gallons
per day on an annual basis,
2. If there is a withdrawal from a combination of wells with a com-
bined capacity of 1,000,000 gallons per day,
3. If the withdrawal equipment has a capacity of 1,000,000 gallons
per day,
4. If the outside diameter of the well is six inches or greater.

A Water Well Construction Permit (WWCP) is required prior to construc-
tion, repair or abandonment of any public supply well having a nominal
casing diameter exceeding four inches. In the Oklawaha River Basin (all
or parts of Marion, Lake, Polk and Orange counties) a permit is required
for the same parameters, however, the nominal casing size is reduced to
two inches. Volusia and Duval counties do not require permits except for
public drinking water supply wells.

A Management and Storage of Surface Waters Permit (MSSW) is
required when a mining operation exceeds one of several thresholds. To
construct, alter, operate, repair or abandon a project, a permit is required
1. It is capable of impounding 40 acre-feet,
2. The project is greater than 40 acres in size,
3. It has 12 or more acres of impervious surface which constitutes 40
percent or more of the total land area.
4. The project has a traversing work which traverses:
a. an impoundment of 10 acres or more,
b. a stream or watercourse with a drainage area of five square
c. or a Hydrologically Sensitive Area not wholly owned by the
A Work of the District Permit (WOD) is required to make use of, alter,
remove works from or place works within, on or across a WOD. Exam-
ples of WODs are the St. Johns River, St. Johns Marsh and the Oklawaha

In addition to these rules, the District requires a reclamation plan to
mitigate adverse water quality, quantity, compensating storage and envi-
ronmental impacts. These impacts are directly related to the mining oper-
ation. Specific guidelines are listed below and are utilized with site spe-
cific information (including soil types, slopes, water levels and
vegetation types) to help mitigate the impacts to the water resources and
related parameters.


1. On a given site, the littoral zone (that vegetated area around the
perimeter of a wetland extending from the mean high water mark to
the mean low water mark) will be given prime consideration as an
area left in its natural state. Applicant will provide an area equal to a
50 feet wide belt of the perimeter of the wetland or 20 percent of the
total area of the project, whichever is greater.
2. Applicant will leave a one foot or greater layer of peat material at the
bottom of the excavation, except in those areas where necessary for
heavy equipment to operate. In these places, it is acceptable to go
down to bare sand to provide a solid roadway; however, this area
must be sealed with a one foot or greater layer of peat at abandon-
ment and meet any other reclamation requirements.
3. Overburden removal of a new site should coincide with viable seed
bank for reclamation. Strips of overburden from donor marshes can
be used in reclamation techniques, providing the total mined strips do
not exceed 20 percent of the wetlands existing area and the strips are
greater than 150 feet apart.
4. While water levels are still low, heavy equipment will provide any
final adjustments to slopes bringing them into compliance with the
General Mining Procedures previously discussed or as agreed upon by
the applicant and the District. Any breaches of the bottom peat layer
which were necessary to facilitate heavy equipment operations will
be covered with a one foot or greater layer of peat material. Slopes
will be adjusted at this time to be shallower than six horizontal to one
vertical from the mean high water mark or an elevation as agreed to
by the applicant and the District to a depth of six feet below the mean
low water mark except for small isolated pockets as identified by
District staff in consultation with the applicant on site.
5. Mulching of the site with existing overburden, stockpiled overburden
or in consultation with District staff, donor marsh overburden, will be
provided to those areas which do not already exhibit a viable seed
bank starting at the high water mark or an elevation as agreed to by
the applicant and the District, and proceeding to a depth of three feet
below the mean low water mark, following the gentle slopes as
described above. This mulch material will be disced into the soil to aid
stabilization procedures.
6. The area above the mean high water mark or that elevation agreed to
by the applicant and the District will be revegetated with native
grasses to aid in the prevention of soil erosion. Bahia grass with a hay
mulch would be satisfactory for this purpose.
7. It is suggested that no disturbance to the site by livestock during
reclamation or initial vegetative establishment will be permitted.
8. Applicant will use best effort and be responsible to see that a viable
wetland will be established within two growing seasons.
9. District employees, upon notification to the applicant, will have
access to the project to inspect and observe permitted activities in
order to determine compliance with reclamation proceedings.


Southwest Florida Water Management District

The district permitting requirements which could pertain to peat min-
ing are summarized below by Kenneth Weber (SWFWMD, Resource Reg-
ulation Department, personal communication, 1984).

"Permits may be required for activities related to peat mining under
four chapters of District rules. Under Chapter 40D-2, Consumptive
Use of Water, permits are required when surface or ground water
withdrawals: (1) exceed 1,000,000 gallons on any single day, or
100,000 gallons average per day on an annual basis, (2) if the
withdrawal is from a well larger than six inches inside diameter, (3)
if withdrawal equipment has the capacity of greater than
1,000,000 gallons per day, or (4) if the withdrawal is from a combi-
nation of wells, or other facilities, or both, having a combined
capacity of more than 1,000,000 gallons per day. Under Chapter
40D-3, Regulation Wells, permits may be required for construction
of any wells two inches in diameter or greater, and for test or
foundation holes. Under Chapter 40D-4, Management and Storage
of Surface Waters, permits are required for various activities involv-
ing construction of impoundments, diversions of water involving
dikes, levees, etc., operable structures, and rerouting or altering of
the rate of flow of streams or other water courses. Under Chapter
40D-6, Works of the District, permits are required "to connect to,
withdraw water from, discharge water into, place construction
within or across, or otherwise make use of a work of the District or
to remove any facility or otherwise terminate such activity." Note
that there are specific exemptions to each of these rules.

South Florida Water Management District

The South Florida Water Management District has several permits
which would be required in the operation of a peat mine. The permits
which would be required are determined on a site specific basis. The
possible permits include Surface Water Management, Dewatering, Public
Water Supply or General Water Use (dependent on volume) and the
Industrial Water Use Permit. District personnel recommend a pre-
application meeting with district staff to expedite the permitting process,
(Rebecca Serra, SFWMD, personal communication, 1983).



A mining operation (including peat mining) is considered to be a devel-
opment of regional impact (DRI) when either of two criteria are met. The
criteria are: (1) when more than 100 acres per year are mined or dis-
turbed and (2) when water consumption exceeds 3,000,000 gallons per
day. (Sarah Nail, Department of Community Affairs, personal communi-
cation, 1984).

Federal Level Permitting

Two federal agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have permitting jurisdiction
which may apply to peat mining. Each agency will be discussed below.


The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) operates under two federal acts:
The Rivers & Harbors Act and the Clean Water Act (Vic Anderson, ACE,
personal communication, 1984). Both acts apply in navigable waters;
however, only the Clean Water Act applies in non-navigable water. The
legislative mandate of the Clean Water Act is to, "restore and maintain
the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the nation's water".
Authority under the Clean Water Act extends up tributaries and headwa-
ter streams to the point where average annual flow is five cubic feet per
second (CFS). ACE has discretionary authority upstream of this point if
1) toxic materials are released, 2) wild or scenic rivers will be affected, 3)
endangered species are involved, 4) the operation will result in down-
stream turbidity or erosion, or 5) the EPA requests ACE involvement.
Individual permits are required under the River & Harbors Act (navigable
waters), and under the Clean Water Act for tributaries up to the five CFS
mean annual flow point, or beyond if conditions warrant the involve-
ment. When conditions do not warrant involvement above the five CFS
point, the regulations state that the activity is covered by a nationwide


In the past, the EPA has administered air quality and water quality
permitting programs. Air quality regulation and permitting has been dele-
gated to the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation. The state
of Florida requires permits for all sources of air pollution. The EPA still
controls the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
permitting. A NPDES permit is required for any operation which would


result in discharge to the surface water of the U.S. (this includes "waters
of the state"). The NPDES permit is required even for intermittent dis-
charges (Mark Latch, DER, personal communication, 1984).


Kenneth M. Campbell

The volume of peat sales in the state of Florida generally increased
from 1972 to 1978 (Figure 23). During the same period the value of peat
also increased. The value and tonnage fluctuated from 1978 through
1981 prior to a rather drastic decrease in 1982. In 1982, the quantity
dropped 25 percent from the estimated tonnage (Boyle and Hendry,
1984) and 24 percent from the previous year. The 1982 value was 47
percent below the predicted level (Boyle and Hendry, 1984) and 45 per-
cent less than 1981. Figure 23 reflects these trends as compiled by the
U.S. Bureau of Mines.
The differences between the predicted and actual numbers for peat
mining in Florida is significant in two important ways. First, the differ-
ences reflect the recent recession which had a tremendous effect on the
mineral industries as a whole, with greatly declined production and
value. Secondly, future revenue estimates for peat from the Florida
Department of Revenue are based on the trends of the recent past. The
recently released 1982 figures may indicate a drastic change in the trend
and may require a significant alteration of the previously predicted peat
values for 1983- 1984 which were $3.9 million (Figure 23). The peat
industry may rebound to its previous levels. However, in light of a 1982
value of $1.575 million, it seems highly unlikely that a value of $3.9
million would be achieved in 1983- 1984.
Currently, the vast majority of peat sales in Florida are wholesale and
for agricultural purposes and, as such, are exempt from state sales taxes.
Some peat products are used in potted plants and sales taxes are col-
lected on retail sales of the potted plants. However, the value of the peat
and the tax upon that value are not separated from the value and tax on
the total sale. Thus, the amount of tax arising from retail sale of peat
cannot be determined. Also, there are no records for sales tax applied to
peat based potting soils (L. Voorhies, Department of Revenue, personal
communication, 1983). As a result, there is no way of estimating the
current tax income derived from the exploitation of peat resources in the
state of Florida.
Estimated tax revenues derived from the imposition of a severance tax
on peat could be determined from the revised predicted values for the
near future. The Florida Department of Revenue does not currently have
such an estimate available.



Paulette A. Bond
The Effects of Peat Mining on Wetlands

Cowardin, et al. (1979) define wetlands as, . lands transitional
between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually
at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water". This
definition encompasses a number of environments which are commonly
associated with the accumulation of peat including bottoms of lakes,
vegetated and forested wetlands (such as swamps, heads and sloughs),
scrub or shrub wetland (such as shrub swamp, mangrove swamp, poco-
sin and bog) and emergent wetland (such as marsh, fen and bog). This
general definition of wetland may not apply to all of Florida's myriad
wetland environments. The complexity of Florida's wetlands is reflected
in the various classification systems designed especially for them.
Appendix B describes several classifications developed specifically for
use in the state which list and describe various wetland environments of
Florida. King, et al. (1980) note that state and federal land management
and environmental agencies will classify most peatlands as wetland habi-
tats. It was also noted by those authors that peatlands falling into a
wetlands land use category would be closely scrutinized, so that it would
be necessary to demonstrate substantial benefits to the state in order for
land use permits to be secured.
It is generally accepted that peat mining in a wetland environment will
modify the existing system. It is, thus, instructive to examine the various
functions attributed to wetlands. The hydrologic functions of wetlands
are summarized by Carter, et al. (1978). Hydrologic functions include:
flood storage and storm flow modification, base flow and estuarine
water balance, recharge, indicators of water supply, erosion control and
water quality. Flood storage and storm flow modification, base flow, and
water quality are treated in sections of this report dealing with water
resources and water quality. Estuaries are characterized by a balance
between fresh water (from landward sources) and salt water (from sea-
ward sources). Rivers which flow into estuaries may be flanked by wet-
lands which are flooded on occasion due to increased river discharge
combined with tidal action. Waters which temporarily reside in wetlands
lose some of their nutrient load as well as sediment load. They likewise
gain organic detritus and decomposition products which are passed on to
the estuary for entry into certain food chains. Temporary residence in
wetlands causes a decrease in velocity which aids in controlling both
timing and volume of fresh water influx (Carter, et al., 1978).
Recharge occurs when water moves into an aquifer. Carter, et al.
(1978) note that there is considerable disagreement concerning the role
of wetlands in recharge. It is noted that while some recharge may occur
in wetlands, all wetlands are not recharge areas. Little information in the


literature supports the idea that significant recharge occurs in wetlands.
Some studies indicate that most wetlands are discharge areas while a
few provide limited recharge (Carter, et al., 1978).
Recharge in wetlands is not completely understood but is apparently
limited in its extent. Confusion in the literature suggests that generaliza-
tions concerning recharge in wetland areas should be made with caution
and that site specific studies may be needed in order to understand
individual systems.
In certain geologic settings, development of a wetland may indicate
favorable areas in exploration for groundwater. Carter, et al. (1978) note
that a wetland developed on a floodplain of water-saturated sand might
serve as an indicator of potential water supply while simultaneously
reducing groundwater levels by evapotranspiration and the inhibition of
downward percolation of water.
Wetlands have been cited as having a role in the control of both inland
and coastal erosion (Carter, et al., 1978). This role is dominantly related
to wetland vegetation which is described as serving three primary func-
tions: 1) binding and stabilization of substrate, 2) dissipation of wave and
current energy and 3) the trapping of sediment. Substantial evidence
exists suggesting that native plants are an effective part of natural ero-
sion control along river and lake shorelines. Limitations to that effective-
ness arise since vegetation can be undermined by wave and water,
severely damaged by floating debris or covered by debris and silt during
floods (Carter, et al., 1978). Vegetation performs a function in coastal
wetlands similar to that documented for inland lakes and rivers. It is
noted, however, that the ability of wetlands to mitigate the catastrophic
flooding from storm surge in combination with wind and high tide may be
relatively small (Carter, et al., 1978).
Brown, et al. (1983) list the following biological functions of wetlands:
1) wildlife utilization, 2) life form richness and 3) gross primary produc-
tivity. Wildlife use measures the diversity of species inhabiting a given
community. It is the summation of amphibians, reptiles, mammals and
birds which commonly inhabit any wetland community. Life form rich-
ness refers to diversity in the physical structure or growth habits of
plants. Various life forms comprise trees, shrubs, emergents, surface
plants and submergent plants (Brown, et al., 1983). Gross primary pro-
duction measures plant matter during the growing season that may even-
tually become food for various consumers. Gross production is important
since it is the first step in the food chain (Brown, et al., 1983).
Peat is frequently found in wetland environments, since waterlogging
is necessary in order for peat to accumulate and be preserved. The min-
ing of peat in wetlands will of necessity modify the wetland system from
which peat is taken. The hydrologic functions of a wetland are site spe-
cific (a wetland may or may not perform any given function) and, thus,
impacts of mining will also be site specific. Biologic functions of wet-
lands include the support of a diverse flora and fauna and also the gross
primary productivity of the environment itself. The modification of wet-


land systems associated with mining will result in displacement and pos-
sibly in some cases death of flora and fauna specially adapted to an
individual wetland environment. Florida Statutes pertaining to wetland
regulation are included in Appendix C of this document.

The Effects of Peat Mining on Water Quality

This discussion is primarily from a study of environmental issues asso-
ciated with peat mining prepared for the United States Department of
Energy by King, et al. (1980).
The water quality of surface waters flowing from a peatland is charac-
teristic of the peatland and controls to some extent aquatic habitats both
onsite and downstream. Peat mining will be accompanied by discharge
of water from drainage as well as waste water derived from the process-
ing of peat for energy purposes. The release of organic and inorganic
compounds is thought to be capable of generating a number of water
quality impacts (King, et al., 1980). The following water quality charac-
teristics are listed in decreasing order of importance. It is also noted that
this list may not include all possible water quality problems. Table 4 ranks
water quality issues with respect to scales of peatland development:
1. Low pH
2. High BOD/COD
3. Nutrients
4. Organic Compounds
5. Colloidal and Settleable Solids
6. Heavy Metals
7. Carcinogenic and Toxic Materials
Water discharged from a peatland may be acidic in character because
waters entering the peatland lack natural buffering capacity. Addition-
ally, hydrogen ion production and organic acids produced by plant photo-
synthesis and decomposition contribute to the acidic nature of waters
from peatlands. The pH values from ombrotrophic peatlands range from
3 to 4 and from minerotrophic peatlands range from 4 to 8 (King, et al.,
1980). Although these low pH values are of completely natural origin,
they can result in significant changes to the aquatic ecosystem. These
changes may include species specific fertility problems, morbidity, mor-
tality and mobility problems as well as other physical and physiological
problems (King, et al., 1980).
The discharge of waters resulting from peatland drainage as well as
discharge of water released by the dewatering process may create Bio-
chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD).
The dissolved oxygen levels in surface streams are crucial for protection
of fishery resources. These oxygen levels may be depressed as a result
of increased turbidity within the stream and the decomposition of soluble
and insoluble material by aerobic microbiota.
Peatlands are known to store nitrogen and phosphorus. Thus, concern
exists that, during drainage and processing, significant amounts of these

Table 4. Water quality issues associated with peat mining (taken from King, et al., 1980).
Scales of Development
Environmental Small Moderate Large
Resource Issue Major Moderate Minor Major Moderate Minor Major Moderate Minor
Discharge Low pH Water X X X
Discharge High BOD/COD X X X
Discharge Nutrients X X X
Discharge Compounds X X X
Discharge Colloidal &
Settleable Solids X X X







nutrients could be released to receiving waters. If nutrient supplies are
increased, eutrophication rates would increase and changes in the
aquatic ecosystem would occur (King, et al., 1980).
Peat contains a number of organic acids. These compounds (fatty
acids, humic acids, amino acids, tannic acids and other organic acids) are
partially responsible for the low pH values associated with waters from
peatlands. The release of waters containing such compounds as a part of
the drainage and dewatering process could have a direct toxological
effect on aquatic organisms.
Peat, since it is derived from an accumulation of plant material, may
also contain microlevels of heavy metal ions which were used by original
plants for life processes. Heavy metal ions are also derived from fallout of
pollutants directly onto the surface of the peat and from the filtering of
surface waters by peats. If peats are exploited as a fuel resource, they
must be drained and dewatered and, eventually, processed for energy
production. This processing may lead to the release of metals to the air
and water.
It is suggested (King, et al., 1980) that all effluent streams be moni-
tored qualitatively and quantitatively to determine the characteristics of
organic chemicals being released. Mining of peat and its processing for
energy may possibly lead to an inadvertent release of toxic inorganic
compounds and phenols. It is important to note that release of these
materials may not necessarily occur. Peat mining and subsequent pro-
cessing for energy, however, have not been extensively practiced in the
United States and monitoring is suggested as means of offsetting this
lack of experience.
The mining and dewatering of peat may result in the release of colloidal
and settleable solids into receiving streams. Peat itself comprises water-
soluble colloidal material and small particles of cellulose and fibrous
material. The nature of these materials and of the constituents which
may become adsorbed onto them is such that oxygen levels are expected
to be depressed. Additionally, the transport of nutrients which might lead
to eutrophication and heavy metals might be increased.
Three states which have begun to cope with water quality aspects
which might accompany the mining of peat for energy include Minne-
sota, North Carolina and Florida. Appendix D of this document includes
lists of water quality parameters chosen for measurement by each state.
The lists are different, since they were prepared for somewhat different
purposes. The state of Minnesota, after an extensive literature review,
concluded that baseline data were needed. A study was devised in which
33 water quality parameters were monitored in 45 undisturbed peatlands
in northern Minnesota. The list of parameters being monitored in North
Carolina has been developed for the assessment of wastewater dis-
charge in conjunction with a proposed peat-to-methanol plant at
Creswell, North Carolina. The Florida Department of Environmental Reg-
ulation has required monitoring of 26 water quality parameters in a per-


mit for construction of a storm water disposal system associated with
mining of peat in central Florida (Putnam County).

The Effect of Peat Mining on Water Resources


The mining of peat will cause changes in the hydrologic budget associ-
ated with a peatland. The changes could be helpful or detrimental, but
the system will change. In order to better understand the changes which
are discussed in the next portion of the text, it is instructive to examine
the system as it operates naturally.
The hydrologic cycle is used by geologists to describe what happens to
water which falls to the earth as precipitation. The water which falls as
precipitation has a number of possible fates. It may evaporate from fall-
ing rain and never reach the earth's surface. It may be taken up by the
roots of plants, carried to the leaves and returned to the atmosphere by
transpiration (the process by which the foliage of plants releases water
vapor). Evaporation, which returns water to the atmosphere, occurs
from soil, from the surfaces of lakes, rivers and oceans, even from the
dew which collects on plants. Some portion of the rain which falls does
reach the earth's surface and flows across it to reach lakes, streams or
possibly the ocean. This portion is referred to as runoff. Some part of
rainfall soaks into the ground (infiltration). A portion of the water which
soaks into the ground will make its way slowly to streams or lakes, and in
certain areas, some of this water may enter a porous and permeable rock
unit referred to as an aquifer.
For a given geographic area, geologists may estimate the proportion of
water which is lost to the processes of evaporation and transpiration.
Measurements are made so that geologists are familiar with average
values of stream discharge, and lake levels. The depth to the water table
may be measured. (The water table is the level below which pores in the
rock or sediments are filled with water and above which they are partly
or totally filled with air). The measurements may be used to make up a
hydrologic (water) budget for a given area. Thus, water resources are a
system. If one aspect of the system is modified, other aspects change in
response to the modification.


This discussion is primarily from a study of environmental issues asso-
ciated with peat mining, completed for the U.S. Department of Energy by
King, et al., 1980.
In a study which deals solely with environmental issues arising from
mining of peat, King, et al. (1980) report that the development required
for mining will modify natural groundwater and surface water character-


istics of the mined area. Net changes both on and off site will be a
function of the size (or scale) of the operation, the mining procedures
which are employed, and technology used for energy processing follow-
ing mining. Water resources issues listed in decreasing order of their
importance include:
1. Floodwater Runoff Response
2. Groundwater Elevations
3. Salt Water Intrusion
4. Surface Flow Patterns
5. Minimum Stream Discharges
6. Mean Surface Water Discharges
7. Hydrological Budget
8. Groundwater Aquifers
9. Evaportranspiration Rate

Table 5 lists various water resource parameters which might be
affected by development of peat mining operations. The operations are
classified into three size groups and each water resource parameter is
evaluated in terms of the effects of small, moderate and large scale
development. Obviously, the hydrologic characteristics of each individ-
ual site must also be considered in determining the extent to which a
given peat mining development will modify a specific water resource
parameter. Mining operations are classified as small, moderate or large
based on the peat they require and the amount of energy they produce.
A small peat operation (1 megawatt-MW) would require approxi-
mately 6.5 acres of peat, six feet in depth per year. The total amount of
peat consumed in an operation projected to last four years would be
approximately 26 acres mined to a depth of six feet. A peat operation of
moderate scale (60 MW) is projected to consume approximately 3,500
acres of peat averaging six feet in depth over a 20 year period. An
operation categorized as large (800 MW) would require approximately
125,000 acres of peat to operate for 20 years (King, et al., 1980).
Development which accompanies peat mining and subsequent recla-
mation may change an area's floodwater response. The extent of this
change will vary with the size of the development itself. Some factors
accompanying development will tend to increase flood flows and other
factors will tend to decrease them (King, et al., 1980). The net effect of
these potential opposing factors will have to be evaluated for each site
specifically. King, et al. (1980) suggest that appropriate state agencies
define downstream flood prone areas so that they may be protected from
large or moderate peatland developments at upstream sites.
Drainage of mined areas and potential ponding will cause changes in
groundwater levels. Groundwater levels are of prime concern in choosing

Table 5. Water resources issues associated with peat mining. (Taken from King, et al., 1980).
Scales of Development
Small Moderate Large
Degree of Concern Major Moderate Minor Major Moderate Minor Major Moderate Minor
Increased Floodwater Flow
Potential X X X
Groundwater Elevations
Modification X X X
Potential Salt Water
Intrusion X X X
Modification of Surface
Water Flow Patterns X X X
Increase Minimum Stream
Discharges X X X
Increase Mean Surface
Water Discharge X X X
Alter the Hydrological
Budget X X X
Alter Groundwater Aquifer X X X
Reduce Evapotranspiration X X X








an appropriate mining method. The groundwater levels in peatlands may
also influence groundwater levels in aquifers which are connected hydro-
logically (King, et al., 1980). It is important to define the relationship, or
lack of relationship, between peatlands which are to be mined and aqui-
fers which might possibly be affected by removal of peat.
If coastal peatlands are to be mined, the drainage necessary to reduce
water levels could possibly lead to saltwater intrusion. In addition,
groundwater recharge may be reduced and groundwater levels could be
lowered (King, et al., 1980). The combination of these three effects
could lead to saltwater intrusion and King, et al. (1980) suggest the
effects of this change should be researched carefully before develop-
Peat mining will require construction of drainage ditches, water control
devices and roads. Thus, the patterns of surface water flow in the mined
area and in downstream channels will be modified (King, et al., 1980).
It is believed (King, et al., 1980) that peatland development will
increase minimum stream discharge. Net evapotranspiration from the
peatland will be reduced since vegetation must be cleared in order for
mining to occur. Thus, a greater portion of net precipitation will drain. As
ditches are constructed, more of the peatlands will be able to contribute
flow directly to artificial surface streams (King, et al., 1980).
A number of factors associated with peat mining will serve to increase
mean surface water discharge. If the mining method chosen involves
drainage, then water being drained will be added to surface water dis-
charge. Additionally, mined peat will have to be dewatered, so another
addition to surface water discharge occurs. It is projected (King, et al.,
1980) that the effects of a small scale development on mean surface
discharge would be minor. Proposed moderate and large scale mining
operations should be evaluated on a site specific basis to protect down-
stream water users and aquatic resources (King, et al., 1980).
The development and reclamation of a peatland will permanently
change the hydrologic budget of the area (King, et al., 1980). These
changes may be helpful or detrimental offsite.
If peatlands contribute to aquifers in a given area, then the effect of
positive or negative changes affecting that aquifer should be researched.
The groundwater flow from peatlands to connected regional aquifers will
change with mining (King, et al., 1980).
Lastly, the evapotranspiration rate from the mined area will change
(King, et al., 1980). Since mining involves removal of surface vegetation,
net evapotranspiration will be reduced. Ditching will lower the ground-
water level and cause a moisture deficiency in the upper portion of the
drained area which will contribute to a lower net evapotranspiration rate.
Although the effects of these changes are expected to be minor for all
scales of development, the modifications in adjacent plant and animal
communities and in local climate are poorly understood (King, et al.,


The Effects of Peat Mining on Air Quality

This discussion is taken primarily from a study of environmental issues
associated with peat mining prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy
by King, et al. (1980).
The mining and storage of peat, as well as its processing for energy
purposes, will produce certain air quality impacts. Expected major air
quality concerns are related to fugitive emission factors from large-scale
mining and storage operations. Overall particulate emission problems are
generated during dry mining, transportation and storage of peat. Small
and moderate scale peat-fired power plants are expected to produce less
air quality impacts than equivalent coal burning plants. Airborne emis-
sions associated with a large synthetic natural gas plant can only be
discussed on a generalized basis. Table 6 lists a number of air quality
issues in order of their projected importance (King, et al., 1980).
Milled and sod peat mining methods both require that peat be drained
previous to mining and also dried on the ground. Drying peat may be
suspended by wind or mechanical action. After peat is dried, it must be
collected, stored, transported and restored. All of these steps may result
in loss of peat to the atmosphere (King, et al., 1980).
Carbon monoxide will be emitted from the direct combustion of peat.
Carbon monoxide is not easily collected in air scrubbers and emissions
may be improved only by improving the combustion process (King, et al.,
Nitrogen oxides are formed when fuels are burned in air. Emission of
nitrogen oxides from direct combustion of peat fuel may exceed allowa-
ble levels.
Various sulfur oxides (SO,) may be emitted when peat is burned. Peat
is relatively low in sulfur and, thus, may not result in severe emission
problems (King, et al., 1980). A. Cohen (personal communication, 1984)
notes that sulfur must be determined on a site specific basis and further
comments that it may especially be a problem in coastal areas.
The strong affinity of emitted SO2 and SO3 for water causes formation
of droplets in the emissions plume. The long distance transport of these
emission products can result in acid rains in areas remote to the plant site
(King, et al., 1980).
King, et al. (1980) report that direct combustion of various forms of
peat fuel may generate particulate matter including sulfate, heavy
metals, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and some particles in the
submicron range.
Non-methane hydrocarbons resulting from incomplete combustion of
peat may react in the atmosphere to form photochemical oxidants
(ozone). Non-methane hydrocarbons include polynuclear aromatic hydro-
carbons which are carcinogenic at very low levels and stable in the envi-
ronment. Most control strategies for ambient ozone involve emission
controls on non-methane hydrocarbons (King, et al., 1980).
Photochemical oxidants (ozone) may be derived from direct burning of

Table 6. Air quality issues associated with peat mining. (Taken from King, et al., 1980).
Scales of Development
Small Moderate Large
Degree of Concern Major Moderate Minor Major Moderate Minor Major Moderate Minor

Harvesting Emission
Fugitive Dust
Carbon Monoxide
Nitrogen Oxide Emissions
Sulfur Oxide Emissions
Particulate Emissions
Nonmethane Hydrocarbon
Photo Chemical Oxidants
Heavy Metal Emissions
Reduced Sulfur Compound
Nitrogen Compound
Halogen Compound
Visibility Reduction
Water Vapor Emissions
Carbon Dioxide Emissions














X m



x -<





various forms of peat fuel. They are formed in the atmosphere from non-
methane hydrocarbons and nitrogen dioxide and are controlled by emis-
sion controls on non-methane hydrocarbons.
Metals may be concentrated in the organic or inorganic fraction of peat
as a consequence of water flow through peat or by deposition from the
atmosphere. These metals may be volatilized at high combustion temper-
atures or emitted as gaseous molecules. The behavior and effects of
these metals are complex (King, et al., 1980).
Emissions of reduced sulfur, nitrogen compounds and halogen com-
pounds may all exceed allowable levels from synthetic fuel plants (King,
et al., 1980). The effects of reduced sulfur emissions and nitrogen com-
pounds (other than NOx) are dependent on meteorological conditions and
ambient air chemistry and quality. The emissions of particulate matter
and plume condensation may cause visibility reduction in the immediate
vicinity of the combustion source when various forms of peat fuel are
burned directly. The extent of this effect will depend on the rate of wind
dispersion of emitted materials (King, et al., 1980).
Combustion sources will generate water vapor which may condense
and precipitate downwind of the processing plant. If water vapor com-
bines with SOx, acid mists may be formed (King, et al., 1980).
Production of peat energy will necessitate emission of carbon dioxide.
The production of CO2 will contribute to the global carbon dioxide build-
up, the significance of which is still subject to debate (King, et al., 1980).

The Effects of Peat Mining on Topography

Thomas M. Scott

Peat is currently mined from deposits formed in a number of specific
geologic settings. These include bayhead swamps, closed depressions or
karst basins, river valley marshes and large, flat, poorly drained areas
such as the Everglades.
Closed depressions or karst basins occur predominantly in north and
central Florida. The depressions or basins are the result of sinkhole for-
mation and do not have surface outlets for water. Topography of this
type of deposit is shown in Figure 24.
River valley and bayhead swamp deposits occur throughout much of
the state. Notable examples of these are the upper St. Johns River Valley
and Oklawaha River Valley peat deposits (Figure 13) and the Santa Fe
Swamp peat deposit (Figure 14). These areas have surface drainage by
streams and rivers. The general topography of the deposits is shown in
Figures 25, 26 and 27.
In general, the large, flat, poorly drained areas of peat development are
in south Florida, south of latitude 290N (Davis, 1946). The Everglades
and its associated peats are a typical example of this type of peat
deposit. The topography of this type of deposit is shown in Figure 28.




Figure 24. Topographic profile of a karst basin peat deposit in north Florida. (Prepared by the
Bureau of Geology for this report.)

140 r



80 L









Figure 25. Topographic profile of St. Johns River marsh peat deposit
in southern Brevard County. (Prepared by the Bureau of
Geology for this report.)

The topography of other peat forming environments can be seen in the
cross sections showing the cypress dome type of peats (Figure 6).
These, however, are not typically mined.
The peat mining process is an excavation process which removes the
original surface vegetation and significantly alters the topography of the
terrain. Various types of equipment are used to remove the peat and
waste material, leaving a water filled (dry, if pumped) pit. During the
course of mining, the size of the existing pit may vary from less than one
acre to tens of acres. This depends on the areal extent of the deposit,
thickness of the peat and rate of production.
Stock piles and waste piles are the result of the mining process. The
stock piles are created to allow the peat to dry prior to shipping. These
piles vary in size and shape during the life of the mine and are not present
after mining is completed, having been depleted as peat is sold. The
waste piles, on the other hand, are not sold and remain after the comple-
tion of mining. The waste material generally consists of peat that is too
contaminated with weed seeds and sediment to be used. Generally, at
the completion of mining, the waste piles are leveled and spread around
the mine site. This is not always true since there are no required reclama-
tion procedures for peat mines. Field investigations suggest, however,
that most operators level the site at the completion of mining.
The post-mining topography resembles the pre-mining topography if


80i- 80
w70 DIKE 70

60 F 60

100X VERT. EXAG. n





Figure 26. Topographic profile of the Oklawaha River peat deposit in northern Lake and
southern Marion counties. (Prepared by the Bureau of Geology for this report.)





HWY 325





E 180

S w
140 <
HWY 21A 140
120 LU-

Figure 27. Topographic profile of the Santa Fe Swamp peat deposit in Alachua and Bradford
counties. (Prepared by the Bureau of Geology for this report.)





w -1
-20 5 0 10 20 --20

Figure 28. Topographic profile of the Everglades in Collier and Dade counties. (Prepared by the
Bureau of Geology for this report.)





the waste piles are removed. The notable exception is that an open body
of water may be present where the peat has been removed.


Thomas M. Scott

Areas of peat accumulation are associated with specific wetland habi-
tats and contain specific faunal and floral communities. The mining pro-
cess, of necessity, removes existing vegetation and significantly alters
the immediate environment of the active mine. As a result of these
altered habitats, indigenous fauna may be forced out and native flora is
The major wetland habitats in Florida are coastal marshes, freshwater
marshes, wet prairies, cypress swamps, hardwood swamps and man-
grove swamps. These are briefly discussed below using information
taken from Hartman (1978) and Gilbert (1978).
The coastal marshes occur along shorelines characterized by low wave
energy. Coastal marshes are generally found north of the range of man-
groves but are interspersed with mangroves in some areas. These
marshes may extend into tidal rivers and sometimes exist as a narrow
zone between mangroves and freshwater in south Florida.
Freshwater marshes consist of herbaceous plant communities in areas
of water-saturated soils which may be characterized by standing water
during portions of the year. Freshwater marshes grade into wet prairies
with the characteristic differences being shallower water and more abun-
dant grasses in the wet prairie.
Cypress swamps generally have water at or above ground level a sig-
nificant portion of the year. Cypress swamps occur along rivers and lake
margins and may be scattered among other environments. This habitat
contains fewer grasses and significantly more abundant trees.
Hardwood swamps occur in lake basins and along rivers where the
substrate is saturated or submerged for at least part of the year. Two
important variations of this habitat are the bayhead swamp and the titi
Bayhead swamps are very similar to cypress swamps except the vege-
tation is more dense. The growth may be so dense as to be impenetrable
in some areas. The plants of the bayheads are mostly small trees with
shrubs and cypress. Standing water is present most of the year within
these areas. These swamps are dominated by varieties of bay trees.
Titi swamps are similar to the bayhead swamps. They are dominated
by the presence of titi rather than bay trees.
Mangrove swamps occur along low energy coastlines in central and
southern Florida. Mangroves dominate with red mangrove furthest sea-


Table 7. Plant communities of concern-based on Nature Conservancy
Water Elm/Ash Swamp Water Elm/Pop Ash Slough
Slash Pine Swamp Pond Apple/Pop Ash Slough

White Cedar Bog Slash Pine Swamp

Cypress/Royal Palm Strand Everglades Bayhead

ward, black mangroves closer to shore and white mangroves furthest
inland. These swamps support large estuarine areas.
The Nature Conservancy has inventoried the plant communities in Flor-
ida and assigned each community a rank in relation to how commonly it
occurs. The plant communities of concern are listed in Table 7 (Linda
Deuver, personal communication, 1983).
It was suggested that specific native communities with tropical affini-
ties might be of such limited extent that peat mining in south Florida
could possibly lead to the destruction of certain groups (Linda Deuver,
personal communication, 1983).
The existence of endangered, threatened, rare or species of special
concern in areas of potential peat mining should be determined on a site-
by-site basis rather than a general habitat basis. Each site should be
investigated and the presence of species in question documented (R.
Kautz, personal communication, 1983). The site specific investigations
are necessary to avoid over generalization concerning the occurrence (or
nonoccurrence) of endangered species.
Table 8 is a compilation of species which are endangered, threatened,
rare or of special concern. This information was gathered from the series
entitled "Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida", from the official list of
the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission entitled "Endan-
gered and Potentially Endangered Fauna and Flora in Florida" and from
data supplied by the Nature Conservancy. Species whose habitat coin-
cides with areas of potential peat accumulation were included. This list-
ing should not be considered all encompassing and up-to-date on species
status. The Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission updates their list
periodically and should be consulted for the most recent compilation.
Comments concerning individual endangered species in relation to
peatlands have been received by the staff of the Bureau of Geology.
Charles Lee (Florida Audubon, personal communication, 1983)
expressed concern for the Florida Panther and the Ivory-billed Wood-
pecker. He suggested that peat mining might disrupt portions of the
panther's habitat. Lee also noted that if any Ivory-billed Woodpeckers


remain they could be severely affected by peat mining activities. Randy
Kautz (Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, personal communica-
tion, 1983) expressed concern for selected habitats of the Florida Black


Paulette Bond

Farnham (1979) notes that in a number of European nations, reclama-
tion of mined peatlands has been common practice for many years.
Mined areas are used for crop production, tree production, conservancy
areas, wildlife habitats and lakes or ponds. Ireland and Poland commonly
use mined peatlands for forage and grass production. In a recent consid-
eration of reclamation of mined peatlands (King, et al., 1980), primary
purposes were cited as provision for long-term erosion control and drain-
age and mitigation of environmental and socioeconomic effects of min-
ing by improving the value of the land.
Farnham, et al. (1980) note that reclamation should preferably be con-
sidered before removing peat for energy purposes. King, et al. (1980)
optimistically suggest that reclamation programs could create lands with
superior recreational and wildlife habitat values. These researchers also
note that drained organic soils may have great economic value as agricul-
tural or forest lands. It should be noted that experience gained in the
Everglades Agricultural Area supports the economic viability of farming
drained organic soils. However, the rate of subsidence of organic soils in
the Florida Everglades Agricultural Area is well known and suggests that
this type of reclamation might not be a feasible long-term solution for use
in Florida's mined peatlands. In order to achieve an approved reclamation
plan, clean-up and possible permanent drainage control may be indicated
(King, et al., 1980).
King, et al. (1980) have prepared a list of environmental parameters
affecting reclamation options. They include 1) seasonal fluctuations in
groundwater level, 2) soil fertility and drainage characteristics, 3) the
amount of residual peat remaining after mining, 4) trafficability (the abil-
ity of the bog surface to support vehicles and machinery), and 5) number
and types of lakes and streams. In addition, factors which control site
specific reclamation programs are tabulated by the same authors. That
information is presented in Table 9. In examining Table 9, it is important
to note that factors tabulated are independent of each other. Thus, a
small development might be harvested by wet methods. The private
single owner of this small development might choose to let the mined-out
area become a lake (open water), since drainage could prove difficult and
undesirable assuming water tables in the area were high.


Table 8. Endangered, threatened and rare species associated with
areas of potential peat accumulation (compiled by the Bureau
of Geology staff).

Cudjoe Key Rice Rat
Everglades Mink
Florida Black Bear
Florida Panther
Florida Weasel
Homosassa Shrew
Key Deer
Key Vaca Raccoon
Lower Keys Cotton Rat
Mangrove Fox Squirrel
Round-Tailed Muskrat
Sherman's Fox Squirrel
Southeastern Shrew
Southeastern Weasel
Southern Mink

Lynx rufus
Oryzomys sp.
Mustela vision evergladensis
Ursus americanus floridanus
Felis concolor coryi
Mustela frenata peninsula
Sorex longirostris eionis
Odocoileus virginianus clavium
Procyon lotor auspicatus
Sigmodon hispidus exsputus
Sciurus niger avicennia
Neofiber alleni
Sciurus niger shermani
Sorex longirostris longirostris
Mustela frenata olivacea
Mustela vision mink


Blackbanded Sunfish
Cypress Darter
Cypress Minnow
Eastern Mud Minnow
Opossum Pipefish
Sailfin Molly

Enneacanthus chaetodon
Etheostoma proeliare
Hybognathus hayi
Umbra pygmaea
Acantharchus pomotis
Oostethus lineatus
Rivulus marmoratus
Polcilia latipinna


Carpenter Frog
Florida Gopher Frog
Four-toed Salamander
Gulf Hammock Dwarf Siren

Many-lined Salamander
One-toed Amphiuma
Pine Barrens Tree Frog
Seal Salamander
Striped Newt

Rana virgatipes
Rana areolata aesopus
Hemidactylium scutalum
Pseudobranchus striatus
Stereochilus marginatus
Amphiuma pholeter
Hyla andersoni
Desmognathus monticola
Notophthabmus perstriatus


Table 8 continued.


Alabama Red-bellied Turtle
Alligator Snapping Turtle
American Alligator
American Crocodile
Atlantic Salt Marsh Watersnake
Eastern Indigo Snake
Florida Ribbon Snake
Gulf Salt Marsh Watersnake
Key Mud Turtle
Mangrove Terrapin

Short-tailed Snake
Southern Coal Skink
Spotted Turtle
Suwannee Cooter

Black-crowned Night Heron
Florida Sandhill Crane
Glossy Ibis
Great Egret
Ivory-billed Woodpecker
Least Bittern
Little Blue Heron
Louisiana Heron
Mangrove Clapper Rail
Marian's Marsh Wren
Reddish Egret
Roseate Spoonbill
Snail (Everglades) Kite
Snowy Egret
Southern Bald Eagle

Southern Hairy Woodpecker
White Ibis
White-tailed Kite
Wood Stork
Worthington's Marsh Wren
Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Chrysemys alabamenensis
Macioclemys temmincki
Alligator mississippiensis
Crocodylus acutus
Nerodia fasiata taeniata
Drymarchon corais couperi
Thamnophis sauritus sackeni
Nerodia fasciata clarki
Kinosternon bauri bauri
Malaclemys terrapin
Stilosoma extenuatum
Eumeces anthracinus pluvialis
Clemmys guttata
Pseudemys concinna


Nycticorax nycticorax
Grus canadensis pratensis
Plegadis falcinellus
Casmerodius albus
Campephilus principalis
Ixobrychus exilis
Aramus guarauna
Florida caerulea
Hydranassa tricolor
Rallus longirostris insularum
Cistothorus palustris marianae
Pandion haliaetus carolinensis
Dichromanassa rufescens
Ajaia ajaia
Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus
Egretta thula
Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Picoides villosus audubonii
Eudocimus albus
Elanus leucurus majusculus
Mycteria americana
Cistothorus palustris griseus
Nyctanassa violacea


Table 8 continued.


Acuna's Epidendrum
Anise (Unnamed)
Auricled Spleenwort
Bartran's Ixia
Birds-nest Spleenwort
Black Mangrove
Cedar Elm
Chapman's Butterwort
Climbing Dayflower
Coastal Parnassia
Coville's Rush
Cow-Horn Orchid
Cuplet Fern
Delicate lonopsis Orchid
Dollar Orchid
Dwarf Epidendrum
Fall-flowering Ixia
Florida Merrybells
Florida Willow
Fuzzy-Wuzzy Air-Plant
Ghost Orchid
Giant Water-Dropwort
Golden Leather Fern
Hanging Club Moss
Harper's Beauty
Harper's Yellow-eyed Grass
Harris' Tiny Orchid
Hidden Orchid
Holly (Unnamed)
Karst Pond Xyris
Lakeside Sunflower
Leafless Orchid
Lily (Unnamed)
Lythrum (Unnamed)
Lythrum (Unnamed)
Mexican Tear-Thumb
Naked-stemmed Panic Grass
Narrow Strap Fern

Epidendrum acunae
Illicium floridanum
Asplenium auritum
Sphenostigma coelestinum
Asplenium serratum
Avicennia germinans
Ulmus crasifolia
Pinguicula planifolia
Commelina gigas
Parnassia caroliniana
Leitneria floridana
Juncus gymnocarpus
Cyrtopodium punctatum
Dennstaedtia bipinnata
lonopsis utricularioides
Encyclia boothiana
Encyclia pygmaea
Nemastylis floridana
Uvularia floridana
Salix floridana
Tillandsia pruinosa
Polyrrhiza lindenii
Oxypolis greenmanii
Acrostichum aureum
Parnassia grandifolia
Lycopodium dichotomum
Harperocallis flava
Xyris scabrifolia
Lepanthopsis melantha
Hartwrightia floridana
Maxillaria crassifolia
Ilex amelanchier
Xyris longisepala
Helianthus carnosus
Campylocentrum pachyrrhizum
Lilium catesbaei
Lythrum curtissii
Lythrum flagellare
Hippomane mancinella
Polygonum meisnerianum
Panicum nudicaule
Campyloneurum angustifolium


Table 8 continued.

PLANTS, cont'd.

Night-scent Orchid
Nodding Catopsis
Okeechobee Gourd
Panhandle Lily
Piedmont Water Milfoil
Pinewoods Aster
Pink Root
Pond Spice
Prickley Apple
Quillwort Yellow-eyed Grass
Red Tail Orchid
Red-flowered Pitcherplant
Red Mangrove
Red-flowered Ladies'-tresses

Slender-leaved False Dragonhead
Small-flowered Meadowbeauty
Snake Orchid
Southern Milkweed
Spoon Flower
Thick-leaved Water-willow
Tiny Orchid
Tropical Curly-grass Fern
Tropical Waxweed
Turks Cap Lily
Violet-flowered Butterwort
Water Sundew
White top Pitcherplant
Worm Vine Orchid
Yellow Anise
Yellow Fringeless Orchid
Yellow-eyed Grass (Unnamed)

Epidendrum nocturnum
Catopsis nutans
Cucurbita okeechobeensis
Lilium iridollae
Myriophyllum laxum
Aster spinulosus
Spigelia loganioides
Litsea aestivalis
Cereus gracilis
Xyris isoetifolia
Bulbophyllum pachyrhachis
Sarracenia rubra
Rhizophora mangle
Spiranthes landceolata var.
Physotegia leptophyllum
Rhexia parviflora
Restrepiella ophiocephala
Asclepias viridula
Peltandra sagittifolia
Justicia crassifolia
Lepanthopsis melantha
Schizaea germanii
Cuphea aspera
Lilium superbrum
Pinguicula ionantha
Drosera intermedia
Sarracenia leucophylla
Vanilla barbellata
Illicium parviflorum
Platanthera integra
Xyris drummondii

Peatland Reclamation in Minnesota

It is estimated that the state of Minnesota contains 173 million acres
of wetlands, three million hectares of which are categorized as peatlands
(Farnham, et al., 1980). In 1975, Minnesota received requests for six
leases of peatlands. (A general description of this leasing procedure is
included in Appendix E) Minnesota Gas Company requested a lease for

Table 9. Independent factors governing site specific reclamation programs. (After King, et al., 1980).
Peat Land Landowner Post Harvesting
Harvest Ownership Future Use Site Conditions External
Development Technique Status Potentials Environmental Factors
Private Single Forestry Climate Reclamation
Owner Laws
25 Acres Dry Large industrial Agriculture Soil Fertility
Owner Land Use

Medium Wildlife/ Vegetation Permits
S Acre Wet Public Land Recreation
3,500 Acres +
Tribal or Native Water Discharge
Lands Open Water Permits
Large Combination Trafficability
100,000 Acres +
Combination of Multiple
Above Land Use Other Other






200,000 acres of peatlands and five other large leases were requested in
which peat was destined for horticultural usage.
The Minnesota Legislature responded by funding the Minnesota
Department of Natural Resources to study some implications of peat
mining (Malterer, 1980). The Minnesota Study included consideration of
the following topics: 1) socioeconomic implications, 2) policy, 3) leasing,
4) environmental baseline studies, and 5) a separately funded resource
estimation of the state's peatlands. Environmental baseline studies
included air, water, vegetation and wildlife. Studies of utilization oppor-
tunities and constraints as well as studies of opportunities for reclama-
tion following mining were completed (Asmussen, 1980). These studies
pointed out a number of land-use options including: 1) preservation of
peatlands, 2) use of peatlands for agriculture, 3)forestry, 4) mining of
peat for horticulture, 5) mining and processing of peat for industrial
chemicals, and 6) mining of peat for energy and conversion. A panel of
peatland ecologists is working toward identification of bogs with preser-
vation value based on uniqueness, representativeness and recreation
value. Reclamation of peatlands for use as wildlife habitat has been
investigated in a study which monitored the evolution of recently exca-
vated ponds in peat.
Farnham, et al. (1980) note that the stability of any given crop
depends on climate, hydrology, chemical and physical properties of peat
and marketability of final products. The major limit to agricultural devel-
opment in northern Minnesota is the relatively short, frost-free period
each year (June 1-August 15). These authors (Farnham, et al., 1980)
report that studies dealing with grasses and grains show no significant
difference in yield and quality between crops grown on the surface of
developed or excavated peatlands.
Two reclamation options being considered by Minnesota researchers,
as well as worldwide workers, are agriculture and bioenergy (Farnham,
et al., 1980). Reclamation research aimed at agriculture has identified
vegetable and agronomic crops adaptable to northern Minnesota. Spe-
cies have been placed in mined and unmined environments with species
and fertilizer treatments varied to allow recognition of factors which
enhance productivity (Asmussen, 1980). Bioenergy crops (cattails, wil-
lows and alders, among others) are currently under investigation for
cultivation in wetlands since production of these crops would provide a
renewable energy resource. S.R.I.C. ("short rotation intensively culti-
vated") refers to the application of agricultural techniques developed to
promote growth of selected bioenergy crops (Farnham, et al., 1980).
The extensive peatlands of Minnesota have been the subject of inten-
sive research since 1975. The research program was devised to provide
information on which to base leasing decisions. One continuing thrust of
this research has been the identification of reclamation methods specifi-
cally adapted to the climate and geologic setting of Minnesota's


Peatland Reclamation in North Carolina

North Carolina contains an estimated 1,000 square miles of peatlands
(640,000 acres). The peat is usually black, fine-grained and highly
decomposed with ash contents that are often less than five percent, low
sulfur contents and high heating values (Ingram and Otte, 1980). This
peat occurs in three major geologic settings: 1) pocosins, which are
broad, shallow depressions characterized by peats varying from one to
eight feet in thickness, 2) river flood plains which are of unknown extent
but contain peats which may attain thicknesses of 25 feet, and 3) Caro-
lina Bays which are elliptical depressions of unknown origin. The 500 to
600 Carolina Bays sometimes contain high quality peats up to 15 feet in
depth (Ingram and Otte, 1980).
In April of 1983, the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation approved a loan
of $820,750 for the First Colony peat-to-methanol project in North Caro-
lina. The 15,000 acre site is expected to supply peat for methanol con-
version for 30 years (Robinson, et al., 1983).
Peat Methanol Associates (PMA) is the group planning to construct
and operate North Carolina's synthetic fuel plant. It is believed by PMA,
based on their studies of the peat deposits and ground water conditions,
that natural drainage will be adequate to return the land to agricultural
use. PMA also plans a land restoration program which will include tree
and vegetation planting to provide wildlife refuge and nesting areas
(PMA Update, February 1983).
In response to the major peatland development proposed by Peat
Methanol Associates, the state of North Carolina created a Peat Mining
Task Force in December 1980. An initial report was issued in March
1981. The task force was reconvened in June 1983, as interest in the
state's peatlands escalated. The original recommendations of the task
force were reviewed, updated and published in January 1983 (North
Carolina DNRCD, 1983).
The sixteen member task force was drawn from all divisions within the
Department of Natural Resources and Community Development which
were involved with peat mining. The task force reviewed peat mining and
its impacts on the state's natural resources. It also reviewed the ability of
the state's management program for peat mining to deal with potential
impacts (North Carolina DNRCD, 1983).
Reclamation methods are categorized as "wet reclamation" or "per-
petual pumping". Constant pumping may be required to maintain land
dry enough for certain uses. Intensive agriculture is believed to be the
only use which can financially justify the continual pumping (North Caro-
lina DNRCD, 1983).
Wet reclamation includes all forms of reclamation which could perma-
nently or periodically cause the reclaimed area to be under salt or fresh
water. Uses which are included comprise paddy culture, reversion to
swamp forest or pocosin, reservoirs, aquaculture of fish or shell fish,
artifically-created nursery areas, waterfowl impoundments, marinas and


recreational lakes. It is recommended that acceptance of mined-out
peatlands as reclaimed be on a case-by-case basis (North Carolina
DNRCD, 1983). (Recommendations of the North Carolina Peat Mining
Task Force are included in Appendix E of this document.)
In response to growing interest in North Carolina's peat deposits by
developers, a Peat Mining Task Force was created to review permitting
procedures for peat mining. Recommendations pertinent to all phases of
peat mining including permits, reclamation, evaluation of environmental
impacts and monitoring of environmental impacts were prepared.

Peatland Reclamation in Finland

Mires are estimated as occupying 24 million acres or 31.9 percent of
the total land area of Finland (Lappalainen, 1980). Development of
peatlands in Finland is encouraged as Finland imported 70 percent of its
energy needs in 1979 (Harme, 1980). Indigenous energy sources which
accounted for 31 percent of Finland's energy include hydro power, peat,
industrial waste woods, waste liquers and normal firewood. Finland's
fuel grade peat resources are estimated to be 32.7 x 109 cubic yards
(Lappalainen, 1980) and the nation pays subsidies to new users of
domestic fuels equal to five percent to 20 percent of the total investment
required for new plants (Harme, 1980).
Annual (1979) peat usage in Finland was approximately 6.5- 7.8 mil-
lion cubic yards or about 2.5 percent of the nation's energy consump-
tion. The aim for the 1980's is to raise consumption to 33-39 million
cubic yards per year. It is thought that the 26 million level is reasonable
based on rising coal and oil prices (Harme, 1980).
Pohjonen (1980) notes that by the end of the century mined-out soil
surface area will occupy 123,550 acres and the problem of future use for
those lands must be solved. It is suggested that a number of characteris-
tics of mined peatlands in Finland make reclamation to "growing environ-
ment" an attractive option. The bottom peat layer is exceptionally sterile
and no weeds, diseases or insects are present. This layer is rich in nitro-
gen and calcium and an underlying mineral soil provides nutrients lacking
in the bottom peat layer. It is noted that energy willow production would
be extremely efficient since burning the willow in heating plants yields a
nutrient-rich ash which may be returned as a fertilizer to the willow
plantations (Pohjonen, 1980).
Finland is actively pursuing development of its peat resource for
energy use in order to offset its dependence on imported energy.
Researchers are beginning to explore reclamation options which make
use of residual peats remaining after mining in combination with underly-
ing mineral soils. The cultivation of energy willows is seen to be an
attractive option, given the renewable nature of that resource.


Peatland Reclamation in New Brunswick

New Brunswick's peat resources are estimated to be in excess of
247,000 acres. Approximately 80 percent of New Brunswick's
peatlands are owned by the province which classes peat as a quarriable
substance (Keys, 1980).
Peats are extracted for horticultural purposes and producers hold peat
leases and pay acreage rentals and royalties on production. The horticul-
tural producers use a vacuum method of milled peat production. This
peat is in turn used as baled Sphagnum peat, soil mixes, artificially dried
and compacted peat and compressed peat pots (Keys, 1980). Addition-
ally, a small amount of peat is used as fuel to heat a greenhouse.
Nonextractive uses for New Brunswick peatlands include protection of
peats within Kouchibouquac National Park, use as wildlife management
areas and artificially developed waterfowl nesting areas. Management
objectives for future use of the peat resource include: 1) consideration of
the needs of existing industry, 2) conservation areas, 3) optimum use of
various qualities of peat, and 4) long-term versus short-term economic
development (Keys, 1980).
An idealized case for management of New Brunswick's peatlands
would be such that surface layers of peat could be removed for horticul-
tural use exposing underlying fuel peats. On removal of the fuel peats,
the basal unminable layer (20 inches thick with high ash content and
rocks and other irregularities), with a suitably designed drainage system,
could allow utilization of the depleted peatland for agriculture and affor-
estation (Keys, 1980).
Selective use of New Brunswick's peat resources are encouraged. The
need for conservation areas is acknowledged. Reclamation is viewed as
an integral step in the exploitation of peatlands. A summary of the leas-
ing procedure applied to peatlands of New Brunswick is presented in
Appendix E of this document.

Reclamation in Peatlands of Florida

In Minnesota, North Carolina, Finland and New Brunswick ongoing
research is aimed at devising reclamation techniques which are workable
for specific regions. For instance, North Carolina cannot assume that
reclamation methods suitable to Minnesota may be successfully applied
to the soil conditions and climate of North Carolina. Minnesota (Asmus-
sen, 1980) has appointed a panel of peatland ecologists to identify
peatlands with preservation value. The Peat Mining Task Force of North
Carolina notes that some areas in peatlands should be left entirely in their
natural state (North Carolina DNRCD, 1983). It is recommended that
those areas be identified as quickly as possible and a program for their
preservation be instituted.
If Florida determines to allow mining of its peatlands, a number of
factors will require research so that successful reclamation programs