Wetlands

Wetlands provide beneficial functions in a number of ways.  They provide essential habitat to many species of migratory and resident birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish, insects and plants.  Wetlands also store flood waters and filter pollutants.  By protecting wetlands, we are protecting our health and welfare from flood damage and improving water quality.

By 1984, over half (54%) of all the wetlands in the US had been drained or filled for development or agriculture (according to USDA).  Congress responded to these alarming figures by passing two critical wetland conservation and restoration Federal programs administered by NRCS to slow or reverse these alarming trends. These two programs are the Wetland Conservation Provisions (WC), which was authorized in the 1985 Farm Bill, and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), which was later authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill. Through these two programs, NRCS works with farmers and ranchers to maintain or increase important wetland benefits, while ensuring their ability to continue to produce food and fiber.

Today, natural wetlands are still being lost, but at a much slower rate than in the past. And those that are lost are compensated for through the development of other wetlands, a process called wetland mitigation.

If you are thinking of doing work in an area that might be a wetland, please contact the Department of State Lands (DSL).  DSL administers the state’s removal-fill permit program to protect wetlands and their ecological functions.  Many activities in or adjacent to wetlands are regulated by other local, state, and federal laws, so a variety of permits may be required before any earth moving activities take place.

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