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Abstract and introduction
Closing comments and references
State of Florida
Department of Natural Resources
Tom Gardner, Executive Director
Division of Resource Management
Jeremy Craft, Director
Florida Geological Survey
Walt Schmidt, State Geologist and Chief
Open File Report 38
Licensing of Geologists in Florida:
A Result of the Population/Development
Explosion and Political Environmental Awareness
State Geologist and Chief
Florida Geological Survey
This Open File Report is a copy of a paper presented at the
National Colloquium on Professional Registration for Geologists
held at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Engineering
Geologists, October 1, 1990, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The
paper is published in the proceedings of that colloquium.
LICENSING OF GEOLOGISTS IN FLORIDA: A RESULT
OF THE POPULATION/DEVELOPMENT EXPLOSION AND POLITICAL
Walt Schmidt, Chief,
Florida Geological Survey, 903 W. Tennessee St.
Tallahassee, Fla. 32304-7795
After five attempts to pass a bill requiring the licensing of professional
geologists in Florida, a bill was finally passed into law in 1987. The first two
attempts in the mid-1970's were poorly organized and the geologic community was
not uniform in its support. By the mid-1980's the dissention among some factions
of the profession had all but disappeared, the engineering profession supported
the concept, and ground water and environmental concerns were on the minds of
every legislator and on the front pages of local newspapers. With approximately
1,000 people moving to Florida every day the associated infrastructure
development and the potential for natural environmental destruction are enormous.
Because Florida obtains more than 92% of its drinking water from ground water,
Florida's informed population has learned to recognize how vulnerable the ground
water is to degradation or complete destruction as development continues its
suburban sprawl. By legislation, geologists are now required to be licensed and
sign off on all documents containing interpretative geology.
The general public is more aware of geological/environmental problems now than
ever before. Global topics receiving constant attention by the news media
include: deterioration of the ozone layer and the possible impact on global
temperature, sea-level rise and associated enhanced ultraviolet radiation;
pollution and contamination from landfills; oil and mineral shortages; and poor
land-use planning. One result of this environmental awareness has been the
registration requirement for geologists many states have implemented in recent
,Licensing of geologists in Florida was first introduced as a legislative bill in
1976. This and three subsequent attempts were unsuccessful for many reasons.
The main factor was that the elected officials and for the most part the public
in general did not perceive earth resources conservation and development or
environmental issues, as a real concern worthy of their attention. Another
contributing factor which led to the failure of the licensing attempts was the
lack of a consensus in the geologic community itself that licensing would be
beneficial and therefore desirable. The academic members were for the most part
opposed to licensing because early versions of the law would not give more than
four years credit for full-time teaching, towards the proposed seven-year
experience requirement. In addition, the engineering profession was not
convinced there was a need for licensed geologists and opposed the concept.
During the last decade Florida has continued to grow and develop at a rate never
before seen. Approximately 1,000 people are added to Florida's population
statistics as new residents daily. The expanding population creates large
demands for raw materials, requiring the development of the infrastructure and
greatly impacting the natural environment. A'further complicating factor is that
Florida obtains more than 92% of its drinking water from ground water, and most
of its population lives near the coast where overpumping of the aquifer can cause
salt water intrusion problems.
Specific environmental problems in Florida constantly reported in the news media
include ground water contamination, mining and associated land destruction,
sinkhole occurrences, peat mining and subsidence, radon, coastal erosion,
wetlands destruction through development fill, expansive clays in soils, oil
drilling and the perceived associated environmental degradation.
It is clear the news media is more environmentally aware, and as a result our
citizens and elected officials are also.
Partially as a result of this informed citizenry, a bill requiring the licensing
of professional geologists was passed in 1987. At this time the geologic
community voiced total support and the engineering profession did not oppose the
bill. The professional engineers seemed to welcome the released liability to
Florida's-law as passed in 1987 included a "grandfather clause" which allowed
those geologists meeting all the requirements to be licensed without taking the
exam. Over one thousand geologists were licensed during that first year, with
about one-third being out-of-state residents. There are now nearly thirteen
hundred geologists licensed in Florida.
In Florida, the licensing regulation is administered by the Department of
Professional Regulation. Within that department there is a professional testing
branch which, in conjunction with a number of professional geologists, formed a
test design committee to prepare the exam. The Florida exam is different from
most other states in that it does not just test on fundamental geology basics.
It is assumed the applicant who has a Bachelors Degree in Geology (or a related
subject with 30 hours in geology) already knows the basics. So the test is
designed with application of these principles in mind. How a geologic problem
would be solved or an interpretation made is emphasized. In this way it is more
of an "applied test" in contrast to a knowledge test. The exam has been received
favorably by other states' boards and the examinees.
The profession is regulated by an appointed board. The Florida Board of
Professional Geologists is comprised of six licensed professional geologists and
two laypersons. As required by statute, one of the geologists is the State
Geologist; all others are appointed by the Governor.
As geologists most of us have historically been involved with mapping the earth.
primarily to find mineral deposits. The population of our planet will continue
to demand the raw materials and energy to continue to better our lifestyle. We
have a great opportunity to continue to play a major role in this prosperity in
that not only can we be the primary scientist involved with initial exploration,
we also can contribute towards the recommendation of the most environmentally
compatible approach for development.
Florida's estimated non-fuel production in 1989 was valued at $1.6 billion. The
demand for portland cement, clays, construction sand and gravel, and crushed
stone continues to climb. Florida ranks fifth nationally in total mineral
volume, second in industrial mineral sales and nineteenth in metal value.
Florida is first nationally in phosphate and peat production and in the top three
in cement and crushed stone.
It is clear in the years ahead geologists will have increased opportunities in
both resource development and conservation, and in environmental protection.
This will also bring increased visibility of the profession. We have witnessed
the first major evidence of this in Florida with the required licensing of
Florida Board of Professional Geologists, Dept. of Professional Regulation, The
Northwood Centre, 1940 N..Monroe St., Suite 60, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0750,
Florida Statutes Chapter 492
Florida Administrative Code Rules 21DD
FLRD GEOLOSk ( IC SUfRiW
[year of publication as printed] Florida Geological Survey [source text]
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Under the Statutes of the State of Florida (FS 257.05; 257.105, and
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