When most people hear the name "Florida," the first images that might rush into their mind are of white sands and blue ocean waters. But the true heart of Florida is its wetlands, the marshes and swamps lush with an assortment of wildlife. While perhaps not the desirable vacation destination that the beaches are, wetlands are just as essential to the well being of Florida's environment.

Many Floridians may have found themselves asking "Should I buy a property with wetlands?" 

Here are 5 facts about Florida's wetlands:

1. Wetlands have been disappearing since the 1800's.

2. Florida has lost over 20 million acres of wetlands.

3. Wetlands are a vital ecosystem.

4. There are incentives for Floridians to convert property into wetlands

5. With population growth, it is now essential that we care for our wetlands and the animal and plant life that occupies it.

Our wetlands have been disappearing since the settlers of the 1800's began draining their properties to convert their land to be compatible with crop growth. While agriculture has been beneficial to our state, the loss of the wetlands has also had negative consequences for our environment. Wetlands are needed for controlling flooding and filtering pollutants. For Florida to maintain a clean supply of water, Floridians must invest in preserving our wetlands.

Instead of converting wetlands to agricultural land, Floridians may be incentivized undertake the process of converting agricultural land into wetlands. The United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (or NRCS) has an Agricultural Conservation Easement Program that is designed to help Florida Landowners to leave their land undeveloped to aid the environment. There is also an Environmental Quality Incentives Program that assists Florida landowners to conserve their land while also improving Agricultural productivity.

For us to leave behind a bright and healthy existence for future Floridians, we must take responsibility to care for our environment even as we seek a prosperous economy and productive industry. To strike this balance, Florida lawmakers must continue to make it financially viable for Florida's farmers and landowners to participate in land conservation.

There are several bills passed by Florida's Legislature related to Wetlands restoration and conservation.  These laws are aimed at ensuring the safety of Florida Wetlands and the wildlife that inhabits them. 

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