Did you know that in The Villages there are 1,400 acres of water retention areas and 2,700 acres of wetlands? The District currently owns and manages 83 wetlands. Some of the wetlands that can be accessed include the Sharon Rose Wiechens Preserve in District 11, Reader Preserve in District 12, Hog-eye Preserve in District 12, and the Chitty Chatty Preserve located in District 13.
Wetlands are defined in Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 328 (33 CFR 328) as “those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.”
Wetlands are important to The Villages for many reasons. They benefit stormwater management by collecting and storing runoff and store those floodwaters to prevent flood damage. They filter and remove pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Also, preserves and wetlands provide food, water, and shelter for wildlife (some of which are protected species).
These wetlands and preserve areas are heavily regulated by The Southwest Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The permits are closely monitored by the District’s contracted environmental consultants.
In many cases, the wetland or upland buffer area extends directly up to a fence or wall creating a visual delineation of the permitted areas. For nature trails and walkways on District property, those improvements and associated maintenance are included in the permit conditions and maintained by those requirements.
For a wetland or associated upland buffer areas adjacent to private property, there are no provisions for encroachments or clearing upon District property by others. The District does not maintain these areas for private property viewshed.
Cutting and/or trimming of vegetation is illegal in The Villages wetlands and may result in criminal actions or fines.
If you see something happening in any wetland or preserve area, please contact the District Property Management Department at 352-753-4022. For additional information, please visit www.DistrictGov.org. We appreciate your assistance in ensuring the environmental health of our beautiful community!
Richard Baier, P.E., LEED AP