MS in Engineering Science (M.S.E.S.)
Degree Granting Department
Civil and Environmental Engineering
James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.
Mauricio E. Arias, Ph.D.
Shawn Landry, Ph.D.
Enforcement, Environmental Resource Permit Program, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Habitat Alterations, No Net Loss
This research used Geographical Information System (GIS) data to estimate the acreage of wetland loss due to small-scale activities (taking into account exempt, permitted, and unauthorized activities) in the Southwest District of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) between 2006 and 2011 and compared that net loss with the unmitigated wetland net loss that DEP documented during that time for authorized activities and violations that were discovered. The comparison allowed an estimation of the extent of undocumented small-scale unmitigated wetland loss that occurred during those six years. DEP records show that 88% of non-compliance cases remain unresolved, and the net loss of wetlands that was documented by DEP is 28.66 acres. The change in acreage of DEP-regulated wetlands (and wetlands on agricultural parcels) as determined by GIS analysis is 1,250 acres gained. However, evidence shows that some of the water features categorized as wetlands in the GIS interface are reservoirs which may not be providing the functions necessary to mitigate for wetland loss. Evidence also shows that many small-scale wetland alterations were not detected by remote sensing, indicating that there is a great level of uncertainty in the GIS interpretation. Consequently, achievement of the No Net Loss goal in Florida cannot be determined using documented alterations, nor can it be determined by use of medium-high resolution aerial imagery. The analysis can be extrapolated to the rest of Florida, where State wetland protection regulations are constant.
Scholar Commons Citation
Castor, Kathleen B., "Regulatory Methodology and Unmitigated Wetland Loss in Southwest Florida" (2018). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.