Central Florida wetlands, bogs, marshes, springs, streams, and karst landscape cover valuable phosphate which the phosphate industry consumes for the production of fertilizers. The dragline is used to strip the natural landscape described above from the surface to reach the intended target, phosphate rock.

Phosphate industry officials are required to submit reclamation plans to be approved by Florida officials to return the stripped landscape to “beneficial use”. Beneficial uses include “containing” rainwater, natural seepage earthen materials for water filtration, agriculture, cattle, ranching, and commercial development interests. Past studies show previously stripped tracts of land reported as “reclaimed” are not functioning (3) as intended and do not “model” definition based reclaimed land requirements. However, researchers do not agree on a single model for untouched natural landscapes in central Florida, so study and research results differ from model to model.

Examples of definition based reclaimed land requirements include shaping the landscape to catch and retain rainwater, produce a continuous volume of seepage through earthen materials for fresh water filtration (percolation), (1) reconstruct the ability for the subsurface to “contain” water, and hydrogeological movement through the landscape. One must create thousands of acres of very complex landscape including flora and fauna to return for permanent habitats while meeting state requirements. The phosphate industry cannot create the landscape by definition because the technology to do so does not exist.

So what can be done to mitigate severely disturbed landscape? One example phosphate industry officials can use to minimize stripping the land surface is to practice removing the earth only where the larger phosphate ore deposits are detected by instrumentation and can still meet state requirements for land reclamation standards. By not meeting state land reclamation policy requirements on stripped lands, drinking water will be adversely affected due to missing the “percolation” stages of water seepage (filtration), through earthen materials that contain water and erode naturally, (aquifers). Presently, phosphate industry officials do not use practices to minimize disturbances to the landscape.

Florida’s phosphate industry officials now bolster “mitigation” (2) as the new buzzword for use as a “smoke and mirror illusion”. The United State Geological Survey, (USGS) states strip mined landscapes are specifically difficult to reclaim for “beneficial” use. Severely disturbed landscape is difficult and expensive at best to reclaim, but industry officials are now stating their new mitigation process will help during restoration of stripped landscape to beneficial uses for agriculture, cattle, drinking water, and commercial development. However, industry officials display no proof for their statements in general or specifics

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