Wetlands are protected under the Federal Clean Water Act (Section 404). Wetlands that are subject to impact from development or land clearing must be permitted or verified as exempt from permitting, through state and federal agencies.
Wetlands are defined by the State of Florida as: "Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions."
Typically three wetland criteria must be present for an undisturbed area to be called a wetland:
- The land must support hydrophytes (aquatic vegetation).
- The land must be composed of predominately undrained or hydric soils.
- The land must be saturated with or covered by water at some point during the year.
The presence of these three criteria may be directly observed or inferred by examining indicators of the criteria. For example, standing water may not be present on a site at the time of an environmental survey, but water stains which are located two feet from the base of the trees are a strong indicator that water was present at some time in the past. The presence of water-stained trees, drift lines, and sediment deposits are examples of accepted indicators that would positively indicate that the area meets the wetland hydrology criteria.
Wetland delineation is simply the determination of whether an area is defined as a wetland and the determination of the wetlands extent on the property. Confirming the presence or absence of wetlands and their exact location is often the first step in determining if a property is developable or identifying how to proceed with development plans that will minimize overall development costs.
FELSI's wetland scientists have been formally educated and/or have received supplemental training in botany, soil science, and state and federally approved wetland delineation methodologies. FELSI’s staff will utilize this training to determine whether or not wetlands exist on the property or to determine the extent of wetlands on the property. If wetlands exist on the project site, FELSI will physically identify specific points along the wetland line. Using a high precision GPS and GIS technologies, FELSI will acquire and superimpose the location each flag and wetland line on a recent aerial image, with the property and/or project boundary clearly delineated. FELSI will provide the client with a wetland delineation report, which consists of an aerial figure depicting the wetland extent on the project boundary, written descriptions of the wetland communities, and photographs of the wetlands
A FELSI staff member flagging the extent of a wetland and obtaining its position utilizing GPS technology
A FELSI staff member analyzing soil to determine the extent of the wetland boundary during a wetland delineation