Title: Letter from Florida Environmental Incorporated, Isolated Wetlands Rules Pursuant to s. 373.414 F.S.
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00000640/00001
 Material Information
Title: Letter from Florida Environmental Incorporated, Isolated Wetlands Rules Pursuant to s. 373.414 F.S.
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Letter from Florida Environmental Incorporated, Isolated Wetlands Rules Pursuant to s. 373.414 F.S.
General Note: Box 7, Folder 1 ( Vail Conference 1987 - 1987 ), Item 33
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00000640
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text


December 4, 1986

Mr. Charles B. Littlejohn
402 West College Avenue
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
RE: Isolated Wetlands Rules Pursuant to s. 373.414 F.S.
Dear Chuck:

At the December 2 public hearing before the SWFWMD Governing Board,
testimony ranged from supporting a .25 acre threshold to increasing it
up to larger sizes commensurate to managing for upland species.
Mssrs. Breedlove, DeMeo, and Exum testified for about 1h hours with
detailed slide presentations of data, but without making detailed
recommendations on thresholds. They were intensively questioned by
Board members about the relevancy of their testimony, the
discrenancies between their testimony and that of Mark Brown (a month
earlier), and their recommendations. I believe the Board failed to
follow their presentation at some points, but understood that they
were asking for some undefined relaxation on behalf of a client.
Few speakers provided testimony about the failure of the proposed
rule to develop thresholds based on biological and hydrological evidence
(although it was obvious by the end of the 4 hour hearing that the
district staff were unfamiliar with the large body of evidence presented)
and the lack of criteria in the rule pursuant to s. 373.414(a) and (b)
In a nutshell I testified that the regulated public was currently having
difficulty working with staff because of a total lack of rules governing
the determination of landward extent and the lack of rule criteria for
evaluating wetlands. The amendment to F.S. 373 was an opportunity to
redress this situation, but the rule had not met the requirements of the
new law. I specifically recommended adoption of 17-4.022 F.A.C. and
revisions to this rule to establish thresholds and criteria based on
biological and hydrological evidence. I briefly outlined the criteria
in the body of this letter, but held my presentation short because it was
already 7:30 p.m. for a meeting which started at 1:00 p.m.
I believe the Board left the meeting confused and looking for a rationale
for resolving the conflict in the testimony. This may be a good time to
approach the staff with a niw approach. I have outlined some initial
ideas below and look forward to developing them in discussions with you
and others.

2811*0 Tamami Trail, Port Charlotte, FL 33952 (813) 624-2911 --

I7792 Proeaional Place P. Box 290647 Florida 33687 (813) 985-240


Page 2
Mr. Charles B. Littlejohn
Isolated Wetlands Rules
December 4, 1986

Biological Evidence for Thresholds

The argument is true that very small wetlands provide important habitat
for certain amphibian species not adapted to fish predation. Small
wetlands are extreme environments for aquatic species because of their
short period of inundation (analogous to deserts for terrestrial species
and estuaries for marine species) and support reduced numbers of species.
This means reduced predation and the creation of a niche that supports
species which have adapted to predator avoidance by living there. There-
fore, it is true that If we destroyed all the small wetlands we would
locally extirpate some species.
It is equally true that upland species use small wetlands as habitat and
that the edge effect created by many small wetlands is greater than that
created by one large wetland. In a relatively natural upland setting,
small, relatively isolated wetlands may provide a kind of "oasis effect"
for upland species.

One goal would be to preserve some isolated wetlands in an upland habitat
to provide for both of the situations described above. For this,.thresholds
may not be the appropriate way of looking at the regulation.
On the other hand, evidence from the Island Biogeography literature is
that the smaller a discrete habitat area is, the fewer species it will
contain. The more isolated it is from similar habitats, the fewer species
it will support. The combination of small size and severe isolation
results in the fewest species.

Isolated wetlands become more island-like, the more altered the surrounding
upland becomes. In the extreme, a parking lot provides no habitat
continuity to other wetlands, and a wetland surrounded by paving will
support more species if it's large than if it's small. These intuitively
obvious conclusions are supported by observations on islands around the
world. Isolated wetlands surrounded by unaltered upland are actually
less isolated than those surrounded by Intensively developed uplands.

Our challenge would be to develop a rule which would give the developer
maximum flexibility for wetlands surrounded by intensive development, and
yet not encourage destruction of every small wetland below a threshold size.
Hydrological Evidence for Thresholds

Wetlands with hydrologic alterations probably provide less valuable
habitat than those which are not, but in some cases the effect of hydrologic
alteration may already be reflected in reduced size. I am not sure how to
0* separate the hydrological alteration effect from reduced size, but I think
the following conditions may warrant high thresholds:

W ______

Page 3
Mr. Charles B. Littlejohn
Isolated Wetlands Rules
December 4, 1986

(1) Wetlands so altered as to support
species throughout the basin; and
(2) Wetlands which have resulted from
the purpose of replacing wetlands

invasion of perennial upland

excavations not created for
loss, i.e. borrow pits, etc.

Criteria for Review of Fish and Wildlife Habitats

Explicit criteria consistent with the threshold criteria need to be
developed to guide staff decisions on the value of isolated wetlands.
Several criteria are listed below based on the above discussion:

(1) Degree of donation in a wetland should be used as an indicator
of habitat value. The more donation present,the greater the
habitat diversity in the wetland.

(2) Distance to other wetlands should be used as an indicator of
the wetland's"connectedness" to other habitats. This is
especially important for small isolated wetlands which may
require replenishment of species following extreme drought.

(3) Degree of surrounding upland development should be used as an
indicator of post-development habitat quality. This criteria
is especially important when distance to other wetlands is

(4) Hydroperiod should be a criteria to the extent necessary to
demonstrate a viable wetland remains after an alteration. The
period of inundation should be greater than 30 days. No value
should be given to longer hydroperiods as these represent
differences which may not be correlated with habitat value.

(5) Origin of wetlands should be used as a criteria. Borrow pits
should be assigned minimum value if dominated by pioneer species.

(6) Species diversity, species richness and other traditional
measures of habitat may be used when these data are already
available. These indicators should not be estimated or
required if not already available.
Criteria for Protection of Threatened and Endangered Species
The criteria for extra protection measures should be whether the Wetland
provides critical habitat functions to known individuals as opposed to
occasional use. Critical habitat functions would include nesting and
reproduction, unique food source, or unique cover. We definitely need to
limit the language in the current rule proposals as it would require special


Page 4
fr. Charles B. Littlejohn
Isolated Wetlands Rules
December 4, 1986

protection for any wetland providing occasional feeding for a threatened
or endangered species.

The above concepts are formative and I look forward to developing some
specific recommendations in further discussions. Let me know when we can
get a group together to start working on this.


Donald H. Ross



University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs