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Wetland Atlas

Many of the files in this area are Adobe® PDF documents.

View Wetland Atlas

Introduction

The City of Clearwater Wetland Atlas was created to facilitate the planning and permitting activities conducted by the Engineering Department, Environmental and Stormwater Management Division. This Atlas provides useful information for the preparation of Environmental Resource Permit applications for the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the US Army Corps of Engineers. It also will be useful for future planning purposes in that it provides an overall representation of the natural resources in the area. The Atlas is intended to be a "living" utensil that can be updated periodically as things change in the area.

Methodology

The Atlas includes a figure and data for each wetland. The figure was prepared by ground-truthing 1999 aerial photography. The jurisdictional limits of each wetland were estimated by comparing the aerial signature of the vegetation to the estimated wetlands limits in the field and extrapolating. The limits were drawn on field copies of the aerials (scale 1"=200') and then digitized in GIS in the office. There is an individual map for each wetland as a PDF file, as well as on the Wetland Location Map provided in the hard copy of the Atlas.

A set of eighteen parameters were assessed for each wetland in the field. These data were collected on field sheets and then converted to a Adobe Acrobat® PDF document and included in the Atlas and in the digital file as a data field for each wetland.

The field data collected for each wetland included the following parameters:

  • The dominant vegetative species present,
  • Each species status as a wetland indicator,
  • An estimate of the percent cover provided by that species,
  • Any endangered or threatened species observed,
  • The nuisance species present,
  • The total percent cover of nuisance species,
  • An assessment of the hydrological conditions within the wetland,
  • A cursory evaluation of the water quality,
  • Existing observable and potential water quality impacts,
  • Information regarding the soils from the Pinellas County Soil Survey,
  • A cursory assessment of impacts to the soils, such as grading, etc.,
  • Wildlife observations,
  • Adjacent wildlife habitat, if any,
  • An assessment of the degree of disturbance to the wildlife habitat,
  • A list of the types of disturbances to the habitat,
  • Recommendations for the restoration or enhancement of the wetland for water quality or habitat benefits,
  • A description of the wetland according to the USFWS Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States (Cowardin, 1992), and
  • One or more photographs of the wetland from the jurisdictional limits, when possible.

Surface waters and former wetlands that have been historically altered to such a degree that they don't meet the definition of a wetland were not included in this Atlas. Drainage ditches, stormwater ponds, borrow pits, and other man-made surface waters were not included unless they were named water bodies or sovereign submerged lands. Shorelines that were hardened with seawalls or riprap were also not included.

Web Page

A web page accompanies the report that has a GIS interactive map displaying the wetlands boundaries, planning area, and section lines overlaid on 1999 USGS DOQQ aerial photography. The web page allows access to the detail aerial maps and the PDF documents by clicking on icons (maps or documents) and then selecting the desired information sheet. The web page was constructed using Microsoft FrontPage® and raw HTML code from ESRI's ArcView3 GIS. There two mapping levels: the main page is displayed at a scale of 1:75,000, and the higher resolution level is displayed at 1:45,000. This allows the user to "zoom" into three areas of interest and select the desired maps. All files can be accessed through the left side bar. Access to the web page is gained through the "index.htm" file.

Results

A total of eighty-three wetlands have been identified within the planning area for the City of Clearwater. The wetlands were divided into seven major categories according to the dominant vegetative cover. The communities include:

  • Mangroves - these communities are dominated by colonies of red, black and white mangroves, interspersed with pockets of salt marsh species such as salt wort, glass wort, salt bush, black rush and other species common to areas of high salinity. This report includes four mangrove areas.
  • Marshes - the marshes described in this report are predominantly Carolina willow marshes, and one freshwater herbaceous marsh. The willow marshes are sometimes referred to as shrub-scrub swamps, but if impacts to these wetlands occur, they are assessed as herbaceous marshes if mitigation is required by the local and state environmental regulatory agencies. There are thirteen marshes within the planning area.
  • Cypress swamps - these areas are scattered remnants of larger systems that once graced the landscape in Pinellas County. Most of the cypress swamps are small, isolated pockets of trees within golf courses or adjacent to residential areas. Several large cypress swamps are still in existence, such as the one near the intersection of US 19 and Countryside Boulevard, but they have all been impacted hydrologically and provide little habitat. There are nineteen cypress swamps within the study area.
  • Bay swamps - these areas are dominated by sweet bay and are usually small, scattered isolated areas. The majority of the bay swamps are engulfed in vines of grape or air potato. There are eight bay swamps in the planning area.
  • Hardwood swamps - the majority of the hardwood swamps were dominated by trees that were mixtures of bays, red maples, black gum and other hardwoods, with understories of ferns, typically. There are 11 wetlands described as hardwood swamps in the planning area.
  • Creeks and ditches - the creeks and ditches included in the Atlas are those that were formerly natural creeks. These include Stevenson Creek, Allen's Creek, Alligator Creek, and portions of Bishop's Creek. The creeks were divided up within the study area and separate descriptions were prepared for those areas where the character of the creek or ditch changed significantly. There are 13 creeks or ditches described in this Atlas.
  • Ponds and lakes - as with the creeks and ditches, the ones included in this Atlas are those that may be considered jurisdictional wetlands as opposed to surface waters. Those lakes or ponds supporting a substantial amount of wetland vegetation, or were obviously wetlands historically, or are named water bodies are described in the Atlas. There are 15 lakes and ponds included in this Wetland Atlas.

Some wetlands were not ground truthed due to their location within private property, the overgrown condition of the vegetation, safety concerns, or other access limitations. In these cases, the wetlands were observed from a distance, and their jurisdictional limits were interpreted from the aerial photography.

Summary

The City of Clearwater Wetland Atlas has been prepared to provide a useful tool for the Engineering Department, Environmental Management Division. One of the most beneficial aspects of the Atlas is the ability to edit the data that is provided for each wetland. Conditions change over the years, especially with respect to the natural environment, and the ability to modify the Atlas will ensure that the tool remains useful and current in this area of dynamic changes.