The corps approves more permits to destroy wetlands in Florida than any other state, and allows a higher percentage of destruction in Florida than nationally. Between 1999 and 2003, it approved more than 12,000 wetland permits and rejected one.
The federal Clean Water Act and the no net loss policy say wetlands should be protected. But the corps trains its Florida staff to presume that every proposal to destroy wetlands is "in the public interest" and tells them to help developers get permits.
To make up for the destruction, the corps requires developers to create man-made wetlands that are usually expensive failures. Developers also can preserve wetlands under a formula that counts existing acres as if they were new. But the corps doesn't track whether most developers follow through on their permit requirements.
Building in wetlands costs the taxpayers. The government sometimes buys and tears down flooded houses, pays to clean up pollution and tries to replace lost sources of drinking water. In Collier County, $30-million in tax money is buying neighborhoods that flooded because of wetlands development.
Elisabeth (Liz) Donovan was a Herald librarian for 10 years, and Research Editor for 13 years. She came to The Herald in 1981, following several years at the
Washington Post. She started blogging in 2000, with a news research blog, followed by the blog at Herald.com in 2003. A frequent speaker and writer on news research, she was honored in 2004 by the
News Division of the Special Libraries Association for her contributions to