Florida’s Vanishing Wetlands

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Video – 1 min: 58 sec
Craig Pittman discusses how satellite imagery was used to study Florida’s wetlands.

Award-winning St. Petersburg Times journalist Craig Pittman presented the Summer 2009 Biodiversity Lecture on June 22 at Stetson’s Tampa Law Center.

Pittman, whose work has twice earned the top investigative reporting prize in the nation from the Society of Environmental Journalists, discussed the struggle to protect Florida’s wetlands. Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy and Environmental Law Society co-sponsored the presentation. Stetson Law Professor Royal Gardner directs the Institute.

Pittman, who has co-authored Paving Paradise: Florida’s Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss with fellow Times journalist Matthew Waite, discussed how reviewing satellite imagery revealed that the state of Florida had, by their estimates, lost at least 84,000 acres of wetlands since 1990. Pittman said that not enough had been done to measure actual preservation despite the goal of “no net loss” of wetlands for close to two decades.

He discussed the impact of political pressure to approve permits for building in wetland areas. “Between 1999 and 2003, the Corps had approved more than 12,000 of these permits in Florida to wipe out wetlands,” Pittman said, citing records obtained using the Freedom of Information Act. “The number denied? One.”

To learn more about Paving Paradise, and to read the special report on the vanishing wetlands in the St. Petersburg Times, please visit http://www.sptimes.com/2006/webspecials06/wetlands/.

To learn more about Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy, please visit http://www.law.stetson.edu/tmpl/academics/bio/internal-1-sub.aspx?id=618.