Most people who don't live in Florida probably think of endless beaches and Mickey Mouse when they think of the Sunshine state. For the folks who actually live here, especially in Central Florida, we see our state a lot differently. Living in Central Florida we appreciate the value of our lakes and rivers. We are privileged to enjoy shimmering waterways in every direction. Beauty is all around us and creates a perfect paradise for fishing and water sports.
While we live work and play near lakes, canals, and rivers we can't help but be reminded of their value to the ecosystem. However many people overlook the extreme importance of Florida's wetlands and how they play a vital role in the upkeep of our treasured waterways.
Wetlands are areas of land that are saturated by water that is permanent or seasonally. These marshy areas pepper the Florida landscape and are crucial to the overall health of the entire aquatic system. Wetlands can be thought of as being Florida's kidneys, they help remove and filter dangerous pollutants. When pollution passes through the water the become trapped under the surface then are slowly devoured by tiny aquatic creatures living in them. Wetland take in the overflow of water during excess storms and prevent flooding.
In the 1980's and 90's wetlands were looked at as wasted space and useless. During that time more than 260,000 acres of freshwater wetlands were lost across the entire state. Thankfully scientist proved wetlands were extremely beneficial for the environment and for the wildlife that depend on them. Federal laws are in place that protect these ecosystem from further damage or development.
The loss of the wetlands over the last few decades had a profound impact on the wildlife that used to thrive there. It is estimated that 45% of wetland species are endangered and their numbers will continue to dwindle if their homes keep shrinking. This also has greatly been the cause of lowering numbers of migratory birds who live in these areas during the winter months.
Wetlands are a valuable part of our environment and without them we would lose many of the beautiful creatures that we have come to love.