Introduction to wetlands and their protection
As previously highlighted, HPS has crafted a mining plan that protects a much of the wetlands on the proposed mining property. Specifically, HPS has developed a comprehensive plan to not only reduce and avoid adverse impacts to wetlands, but to reclaim impacted wetlands on the property in a way that exceeds state and federal regulations. That is, HPS’s plan will result in an increase in the quantity and quality of wetlands and other surface waters on site.
But what exactly is a wetland?
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection defines a “wetland” as areas inundated or saturated by surface or ground water often enough and long enough to support vegetation adapted for life in saturated soils, and under normal circumstances do support such vegetation. Wetlands can be dry for a period of time and at other times be partially or completely submerged. They act as a natural water filter and sponge. By temporarily storing runoff and storm waters and slowly releasing them, wetlands help to control flooding and prevent erosion. Slowing down the water’s movement also gives plants more opportunities to absorb nutrients and allows suspended material to settle become trapped in the sediment. Much like our kidneys do for our blood, wetlands filter and remove around 90% of the common pollutants from water.
Florida has a long history recognizing the importance of wetlands. State law and regulations require mining applicants to demonstrate reasonable efforts to reduce or eliminate impacts to wetlands, and where unavoidable, mitigation of adverse impacts so that there is “no net loss” of wetland function. Additionally, phosphate mines face even more stringent standards requiring all wetlands and other surface waters be reclaimed “acre-for-acre,” “type-for-type,” and “foot-for-foot.” By following and exceeding the standards set by these laws and regulations, HPS will ensure wetlands, and the values they provide, will be available for generations.
See our post from April 23, 2019, “Renewing beauty, Enhancing Function” for a discussion of how the property will be enhanced after reclamation, and please visit again later this week as we discuss HPS’s plans for making this happen in more detail.
 “Minimizing impacts and Preserving High-Value Communities,” posted on April 29, 2019.