Message from Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle

The District focuses on wetlands

February 7, 2020

Water lilies in the headwaters of the St. Johns River
Water lilies among the marsh grasses in the headwaters of the St. Johns River, where the District has restored and preserved wetlands.

The first weekend in February marked the international observance of World Wetlands Day, recognizing the importance of these special water bodies. Here at the St. Johns River Water Management District, wetlands are a year-round focus.

Our work includes protecting, restoring and preserving natural systems, and supporting wetlands’ natural hydrologic and ecologic functions. Decades ago, the importance of wetlands was not fully understood. Wetlands were considered nothing more than breeding grounds for mosquitoes. However, we now know that the benefits of wetlands include filtering pollutants from surface waters, storing water from storms, helping to prevent flood damage, recharging groundwater, serving as nurseries for saltwater and freshwater fish and shellfish, and providing habitat for a variety of wildlife and plants.

Wetlands figure prominently in our core missions and daily work as well as our cooperative projects with partners. Examples include restoring former farmland to functioning wetlands at the District’s Lake Apopka North Shore in Lake and Orange counties, the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area in Lake County and the headwaters marshes of the St. Johns River. Some activities are conducted through the District’s Division of Water and Land Resources, while other protection efforts come through our Division of Regulatory Services as part of the District’s Environmental Resource Permitting Program.

Each year we provide an update on the success of our wetlands work in the “wetlands restoration gains report.” The most recent annual summary (through 2018) shows District programs restored a net gain of 40,680 acres of wetlands cumulatively districtwide and preservation through all District programs totaled 449,135 acres of wetlands restored and preserved.

Visit our website to learn more about wetlands and the work of the District to protect them. Thanks to our team of scientists, permitting staff and partners who work each day to preserve Florida’s wetlands and waterways.

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