Martin County has enacted wetland and upland protection measures to preserve wetlands and native upland habitats and maintain their ecological functions. The Growth Management Department is responsible for the implementation of these protective measures.
Wetland and Upland Community Protection
All wetlands in Martin County are protected. A 50 foot buffer zone (75 feet if the wetland is connected to waters of the State) is required around wetlands to provide an upland transition area which can protect the wetland from negative impacts. Where possible, these buffers contain native upland habitat. If no native vegetation is present in the buffer zone, then planting of appropriate vegetation is required in accordance with a site-specific Preserve Area Management Plan (PAMP).
Upland protection measures have been implemented in Martin County to prevent the loss of native upland habitats to development or to the spread of exotic invasive plant species. All parcels of land that have been platted since February 1992, and all Planned Unit Developments, large commercial projects and subdivisions are now required to preserve up to twenty-five percent of the total common native upland habitat or twenty-five percent of all unique, endangered, threatened or rare native upland habitats. In addition, each of these types of developments is required to provide a PAMP detailing an environmental management plan for its preserve areas.
What is upland habitat?
Uplands comprise any land area not defined as wetlands or surface waters, including all native upland habitat and impacted lands such as pasture and other cleared areas. Twenty-five percent of the native upland habitat found on a site being developed must be preserved. A Preserve Area Management Plan (PAMP) will be required as part of any development approval. An environmental consultant can provide information on upland preservation and can prepare a PAMP for submittal to the County.
What is a wetland?
The Martin County Comprehensive Growth Management Plan has adopted the definition of wetlands found in Florida Statutes. This definition states that wetlands are "... those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater at a frequency and a duration sufficient to support, and under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soils. Soils present in wetlands are generally classified as hydric or alluvial, or possess characteristics that are associated with reducing soil conditions. The prevalent vegetation in wetlands generally consists of facultative or obligate hydrophytic macrophytes that are typically adapted to areas having soil conditions described above.
These species, due to morphological, physiological, or reproductive adaptations, have the ability to grow, reproduce, or persist in aquatic environments or anaerobic soil conditions. Florida wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bayheads, bogs, cypress domes and strands, sloughs, wet prairies, riverine swamps and marshes, hydric seepage slopes, tidal marshes, mangrove swamps and other similar areas. Florida wetlands generally do not include longleaf or slash pine flatwoods with an understory dominated by saw palmetto."