The state and federal governments maintain a number of programs for the conservation of Florida’s natural resources, particularly forests, fisheries, wildlife, soils, and water supply. In 1993 the Florida legislature combined the state departments of natural resources and environmental regulation into the Department of Environmental Protection. The new department is responsible for all aspects of protection and conservation. Federal agencies active in the state include the United States Forest Service, which administers the national forests, and the National Park Service. In 2008 the state had 49 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. Between 1995 and 2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment increased by 27 percent. Florida’s extensive pine forests were once seriously depleted by over-cutting and by improper methods for obtaining turpentine from the trees. However, their economic value has been restored through reforestation efforts.
Soil erosion is not a major problem in most of Florida. Only the northwestern corner of the panhandle has suffered serious erosion. However, in the Everglades, hundreds of acres of valuable peat and muck soil have been destroyed by overdraining or burned as a result of accidental fire in drained swamplands.
As one of the wettest states in the nation, Florida has ample supplies of water. Most of the annual rainfall seeps down through the limestone rock, where it makes its way slowly to the sea through deep underground reservoirs. The state’s water supply comes primarily from wells that tap these vast underground reservoirs. In some coastal areas the underground freshwater reserves have been overdrawn and contaminated by intruding salt water.
Where excessive amounts of water have been pumped out to supply the rapidly growing urban centers, the level of water in the natural reservoirs has been lowered and salt water from the sea has filtered in. In an effort to prevent this saltwater intrusion, the legislature enacted the 1957 Water Resources Law to develop a system of water rights allocation. The program also included provisions for implementing a number of flood control and drainage projects in the state. Oil spills and stream pollution by inadequately treated waste have created new concern for preserving a wholesome water supply. Both public and private agencies are now seeking ways of avoiding further pollution of Florida waters, but much remains to be done. "Florida" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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