The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released an interesting, but very circumspect, report on the “Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009.” It explicitly does “not draw conclusions regarding trends in the quality or condition of the Nation’s wetlands” and only provides data on “wetland extent and type.” The report has no state-by-state tabulations and is very cautious about attributing particular causes for wetland losses. Nonetheless, the report does have much interesting information. For example,
- Overall national wetland losses have steadily declined nationally from 458,000 acres per year in the early 1950s to 13,800 acres per year recently.
- “In a five year period, we lost over 630,000 acres of forested wetlands, mostly in the Southeast – an area equal to half a million football fields each year” (F&WS Director Dan Ashe). The report says that silvicultural activities were a prime cause of this loss.
Neither the federal nor the state government maintains an accurate ongoing tabulation of wetlands in Florida. There are only reports on the estimated effects of wetland permits. However, many wetlands are lost or degraded outside of any permitting scheme. Wouldn’t it be nice to know the real “status and trends” of wetlands in Florida?