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Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 18, 2010
CONTACT: Dee Ann Miller, (850) 245-2112 or (850) 519-2898 (cell)
  Jodi Conway, (904) 807-3300 Ext. 3210

 

Workshop Participants Fill Up on Learning at DEP Workshop

-- Northeast District workshop assists in environmental compliance and helps save applicants’ time and money--

JACKSONVILLE - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Northeast District Office today hosted a compliance assistance workshop designed to provide environmental compliance assistance to Florida’s marine construction industry. The workshops, which are free and open to the public, provide an accessible forum in which attendees can easily obtain helpful information about Department rules, project requirements and expectations, as well as the permitting process associated with the DEP’s Submerged Lands and Environmental Resource Permitting (SLERP) program.

Today’s workshop, which focused on wetland filling, is part of a continuing education series that was initiated more than a year ago to help marine contractors and consultants understand the Department’s rules and more easily navigate the permitting process. A primary goal was to reduce the processing time for applications by identifying information requirements upfront, which minimizes the need for additional information and reduces unnecessary time delays. This makes the permitting process more efficient and ultimately saves property owners time and money. The workshop held today focused specifically on the requirements that apply to wetland fill projects, a topic of particular interest for the Florida Marine Contractors Association (FMCA) and local environmental consultants.

“This workshop is designed to focus attention on wetlands, which are extremely valuable to both our local environment and economy.” said DEP Northeast District Director Greg Strong. “By educating and assisting the industry through these workshops, we are not only helping participants with the permitting process, but also working to ensure a higher level of environmental compliance and resource protection.”

At one time, people thought of wetlands as being 'useless wastelands.' We now know that wetlands are one of our more important natural resources because of the many environmental and economic benefits that they provide such as flood control, water quality improvements, erosion control, aquifer recharge areas, habitat, and nursery grounds for many commercial fish. The term 'fill' includes any material that is placed in, on, or over wetlands or other surface waters. For example, dirt, sand, gravel, rocks, shell, pilings, mulch and concrete are all considered fill if they are placed in a wetland or other surface water. Dredging or filling in jurisdictional wetlands or surface waters without a permit from DEP is a violation Florida law and can result in a fine.

DEP had specialists on hand at the meeting to cover a wide range of topics from how to properly complete permit applications, to preferred evaluation methodologies within environmentally sensitive areas and what studies may be needed for a variety of circumstances. In addition, they discussed wetland mitigation, which provides the option of offsetting wetland impacts by restoring, enhancing, or preserving comparable habitats in an area impacted by development.

By educating and assisting the industry about the SLERP program through these workshops, DEP hopes to increase environmental compliance and protection. The SLERP program regulates activities in wetlands, such as construction dredging and filling. The program also regulates stormwater and surface water management systems in uplands which can prevent flooding and provide other environmental benefits. Among other activities, this covers the construction of seawalls, the installation of riprap and other shoreline stabilization structures to protect Florida’s fragile waterways, the beach and dune system and upland property along shorelines. Additionally, the state owns the submerged lands on which many of these structures are built. Therefore, prior to the commencement of any activity, regulatory permits and authorization from DEP to use the state’s submerged lands, may be necessary.

Workshops are planned on an ongoing basis. Objectives of the initiative include:
• Providing updates on rules and regulations and other useful information;
• Improving the level of understanding regarding various environmental issues;
• Enhancing communications between DEP and the industry; and
• Developing a beneficial partnership between the Department and the FMCA.

For more information about DEP’s Compliance Assistance Program, and the dates, locations and registration information for the workshops, please visit: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/northeast

wetland

"This workshop is designed to focus attention on wetlands, which are extremely valuable to both our local environment and economy."

Greg Strong
DEP Northeast District Director

10–027

Last updated: February 23, 2010

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