After finding the perfect piece of land for sale in Polk County Florida, you discover that there are wetlands on the property. Should you buy the land or pass? Before you proceed, there are things you should consider first. Read this section and part two of our article to be certain that you have no regrets when purchasing land.
What Are Wetlands?
Wetlands are land areas that are saturated with water either during certain times of the year or permanently. Wetlands are their own ecosystem and can be characterized by water tables, hydric soils, wildlife, and vegetation. Wetlands are important to the environment, which means that landowners are limited by how they can use their land if it contains wetlands.
Are Wetlands Protected?
Wetlands are protected by both federal and state laws, and in some cases, county and municipal agencies. They must remain in their natural condition. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act regulates wetlands and requires that a Section 404 permit be obtained before conducting any activity that would discharge, dredge, or fill materials into U.S. waters. Under Florida law, exemptions for agricultural and silvicultural activities can be found in Chapter 373 and Chapter 403 of the Florida Statutes. You must get permission and obtain applicable permits from your local regulating agency if you plan to dredge, fill, or cut any vegetation in a wetland.
Are Wetlands Valuable?
Wetlands are beautiful, they attract wildlife, and they don’t require maintenance. Many people do not know the inherent value of wetlands and their importance to our environment. As a result, wetlands have been damaged and destroyed. Preserving wetlands is critical as they provide the following benefits:
- Provide flood control
- Protect us against storm surge
- Reduce wind and swell waves
- Provide shelter for threatened and endangered species
- Excellent opportunity for recreation and tourism
- Stored carbon (carbon sink) helps fight climate change
- Provide fertile ground for food and plants that require high water content (i.e., rice, watercress)
When wetlands are converted, the lives of rare plants and animal species are jeopardized, sediments and other pollutants are not filtered and cleaned properly, and our shorelines are no longer protected from erosion. To minimize flood damage and preserve the beauty and diversity of our landscape, wetlands must be preserved.