Wetland programs are administered at local, state and federal levels. State wetland programs fall into several categories: 1) regulatory, 2) restoration, 3) water quality (or Pollution Control), 4) monitoring/assessment, 5) wetland mapping, 6) wildlife/fisheries and sometimes 7) Coastal Zone Management. Additionally, there is sometimes a mitigation component to a state wetland program. At the Federal level, wetland programs mostly fall under the Clean Water Act. Federal agencies involved with wetland programs include the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Section 404 dredge and fill permitting) and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Local wetland programs are run by a number of local governements, including conservation commissions, land trusts, local water districts, water quality and pollution control organizations, counties and other interest groups.
ASWM works closely with a number of federal agencies that protect, monitor/study and regulate wetlands, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administation (NOAA). These agencies all play a role in protecting and regulating wetlands. An extensive directory of federal agencies that have programs pertaining to wetlands is available by clicking here.
State Program Summaries
Two thirds of the United States currently lack regulatory programs that comprehensively address wetlands and isolated wetlands in particular. Of the states that do have regulatory programs, statutes and regulations addressing wetlands and other isolated waters vary substantially. To further understanding of the various approaches available for developing statutory and regulatory language, we have provided links to statutes and regulations in the states with existing programs, click here.
ASWM has prepared a number of reports on the challenges faced by state-level wetland regulatory programs. Each report is available in PDF format and may be viewed and/or downloaded by clicking on the title, below:
Wetland Program Plans: A Strategic Tool for States & Tribes (March 2012) by Leah Stetson
Section 401 Certification Best Practices in Dredge and Fill Permit Programs (January 2012) by ASWM
The SWANCC Decision: State Regulation of Wetlands to Fill the Gap (March 4, 2004) by Jon Kusler, Esq.
Model State Wetland Statute to Close the Gap Created by SWANCC (February 22, 2001) by Jon Kusler, Esq.
Common Questions: State Wetland Regulatory Programs (June 26, 2006) by Jon Kusler, Esq., and Jeanne Christie.
Many states have been doing a number of things to improve wetland permitting in recent years. “Improved” permitting refers to making the permitting process more efficient while maintaining the same level of protection for wetlands and water resources; “more efficient” not only speaks to making it faster but also easier for both staff and applicants to understand. Some states have completed and others are starting activities that fall into the following categories: 1) consolidating permitting; 2) communication before permitting; 3) online applications; 4) utilizing science & technology; 5) enhancing data management; 6) consistency and program management (incl. evaluating permit decisions) and 7) other. State summaries that have been submitted so far are linked below.
This website is for review by States and Tribes only. Information on this site is under development and should not be shared or distributed to other parties.
This website is for review by the Ecos Workgroup only. Information on this site is under development and should not be shared or distributed to other parties.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has strongly encouraged states and tribes to develop Wetland Program Plans (WPPs) consistent with one or more of the Enhancing State and Tribal Programs (ESTP) core elements. Wetland Program Plans can establish priorities, set short and long term program development goals and provide states and tribes with a blueprint for future action to create and improve state programs to conserve manage and protect wetlands. In 2013 ASWM completed a two-year project to assist states and tribes in developing Wetland Program Plans. Links are provided below to a Wetland Program Plan Handbook, a series of recorded webinars and other resources that were created to assist states and tribes. Completed state and tribal Wetland Program Plans are posted by EPA Region on the EPA website.
Other webpages with resources for developing wetland programs plans:
Voluntary Restoration, Wetland Restoration (To be added.)
The objective of the Clean Water Act (CWA) is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters. Toward achievement of this goal, the CWA prohibits the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States unless a permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers or approved State under CWA Section 404 authorizes such adischarge.
For every authorized discharge, the adverse impacts to wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources must be avoided and minimized to the extent practicable. For unavoidable impacts, compensatory mitigation is required to replace the loss of wetland, stream and aquatic resource functions in the watershed. Compensatory mitigation refers to the restoration, establishment, enhancement, or in certain circumstances preservation of wetlands, streams or other aquatic resources for the purpose of offsetting unavoidable adverse impacts. For more, click here.
Thus, compensatory mitigation is an important part of a complex regulatory framework that connects Section 404 of the Clean Water Act including the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines, the 401 Water Certification Program, the Rive and Harbor Act of 1899, and other federal laws including the Endangered Species Act. This page provides a short summary of these regulatory elements and links to the actual regulatory language, guidance documents and other resources. States and tribes also are actively engaged in dredge and fill permitting through federal, state, and tribal laws and regulation. Additional state-level information can be identified in the State Summaries section of this website.
This website is for review by Ecos Workgroup Members only. Information on this site is under development and should not be shared or distributed to other parties.
State Wetland Program Summaries
This page provides links to summaries of state wetland programs. The summaries encompass a comprehensive suite of programs including wetland regulation and mitigation, wetland water quality standards, monitoring and assessment, voluntary restoration, tax incentives, coordination and public/private partnerships. State programs vary substantially from state to state. These program summaries were provided to ASWM by individual states at the Association's request. Program descriptions for each state follow a standardized format to allow comparison of state programs across the country. Therefore, some states will lack programs under certain topics, but have extensive information in other program areas. The state wetland and related water resource programs described below often derive their authorities from more than one statute and/or regulation. As a result different programs may be administered by different agencies. While ASWM in partnership with the states has tried to provide a comprehensive description of each state's wetland programs, programs may change from year to year and parts of the state report may need to be updated. States that would like to revise or update the reports posted here can contact email@example.com to make changes and revise any state report.
Programmatic General Permit (PGP) - A type of regulatory permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) which authorizes states, local governments, tribes, or other federal agencies with regulatory programs comparable to the Corps' Section 10 or 404 Program to issue permits for specified activities in lieu of direct Corps' issuance of such permits.
State Programmatic General Permit (SPGP) - A type of PGP that is administered by a state agency and designed to eliminate duplication of effort between Corps districts and states, as well as to make the permitting process more efficient with flexibility as to the geographic region covered and whether nationwide permits are revoked.
Regional General Permit (RGP) - A type of PGP that is issued by the Corps with certain conditions that pertain to a limited(regional) geographic area; it can be used to modify or in place of nationwides (the role of various states).
General Authorization (GA) - A type of permit that is issued by a state for specific types of minimal impact projects, e.g. Oregon's GA.
See the articles below for more information about these types of regulatory action.
A Citizen's Guide to the Corps of Engineers by American Rivers
American Rivers published a citizens' guide to understanding the Army Corps of Engineers' permitting process under Clean Water Act. The full guide is here.
Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual
2nd Edition is available at River Network’s Online Marketplace
Understanding the Clean Water Act: An Online Course
River Network is proud to announce the resurrection of the online course, Understanding the Clean Water Act. Users can now explore the course at: www.cleanwateract.org. The course is a companion to the book, The Clean Water Act Owner's Manual. Course content will help users isolate specific water quality problems, identify possible solutions, develop and leverage existing programs and build effective outreach tools. The course is appropriate for staff, interns, volunteers and board members interested in learning more about the force of the Clean Water Act and related tools. Even Clean Water Act old-timers will likely find something to ponder in the local stories, digging deeper and resources sections. If you train staff or volunteers on the Act, you’ll also find some special training tools to help you get your points across. For questions or to share your thoughts on this course, contact Merritt Frey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Understanding Federal, State and Local Dredge & Fill Permitting Programs
by Leah Stetson, MPhil HE, Association of State Wetland Managers, Inc. (04/07)
In response to receiving numerous requests for information about dredge and fill permits, ASWM investigated several ways that federal, state and local permitting programs have used to deal with violators, as well as to educate the public. These included wetland education and regulatory workshops, technology and GIS mapping. To read full article in PDF, click here.
Common Questions: Wetland Guidance for Engineers
by Jon Kusler, Association of State Wetland Managers, Inc. (6/26/06)
This guide is designed for engineers (civil, sanitary, other) wishing to undertake activities which may impact wetlands or who wish to utilize wetlands in meeting various project goals (e.g., pollution control). It addresses frequently asked engineering-related questions concerning wetland protection, restoration, and construction. A selected bibliography and list of websites provide the reader with
more information concerning specific subjects.
To view in PDF, click here.
Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act defines a permitting program for dredge and fill activities in wetlands and other waters of the United States. Section 404 also allows a state or tribe to administer its own permit program to regulate these activities in lieu of the federal program for most nontidal waters, given approval from the EPA. In 2010, the Association of State Wetland Managers and the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) convened a national workgroup to facilitate state and tribal “assumption” of the Section 404 Program.
Clean Water Act Section 404 Program Assumption: A Handbook for States and Tribes
The 401 Certification Capacity Building Project is a three-part project supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. EPA is supporting the development of case studies about 10 state programs and hosting a series of 401 certification capacity building conference calls through December of 2010. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is supporting communication and information sharing in preparation for the reissuance of the Section 404 Nationwide Permits, which will occur following publication of a proposed and final rule and go into effect in March of 2012.
EPA's "Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification: A Water Quality Protection Tool for States and Tribes" was released April 2010. This new handbook describes CWA §401 certification authorities, the way different state and tribal programs use certification, and how state and tribal certification programs leverage available resources to operate their certification programs. The handbook is available here. For additional resources, click on the links below. If you are looking for information about Water Quality Standards for Wetlands, click here.
The In-Lieu Fee Program Work Group is a special project supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The purpose is to assist interested states and tribes in meeting the requirements for the mitigation rule for In Lieu Fee Programs. This is accomplished through a national workgroup of state and Corps District staff and other interested parties. Work group members share ideas and information about progress and challenges in meeting the requirements of the rule.
Water quality is an important factor in managing wetlands. Water quality in wetlands is affected by the type of soil, vegetation, position on the landscape, topography, water quantity (amount of flow), climate, groundwater and surface water chemistry, and hydrology. States are increasingly interested in developing water quality standards for wetlands (which may differ in criteria from water quality standards for streams or lakes).
A water quality standard is a legally established state regulation consisting of three main parts: (1) designated uses, (2) criteria and (3) anti-degradation policy, and often a fourth part, general policies addressing implementation.To date, 15 states have adopted wetland-specific water quality standards. ASWM has provided resources for states and tribes that are developing criteria for adoption of water quality standards, as well as other information related to wetlands and water quality, on this page.
In 2011 and 2012 ASWM conducted a project funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wetlands Division to support the development of water quality standards for wetlands by states and tribes. The principle product of the project is the report: "Wetland Water Quality Standards for States" which provides information on the formulation and adoption of water quality standards for wetlands and provides examples of draft narrative standards To access the report click here.
This webpage provides information on stream identification, delineation and mitigation in the United States. On this page, you will find an overview of stream-related issues, pertinent regulatory documents, examples of state stream mitigation programs and mitigation banks, links to guidance documents (including procedures and protocols) and other useful information, such as links to tools and techniques, valuation information, and a glossary of stream mitigation terms.
In 2014, ASWM completed a national study on stream identification, delineation and mitigation in the United States. The project interviewed state staff from 47 states. To read the executive summary from the report: (Link to be added). To download the full report, entitled, Report on State Definitions, Jurisdiction and Mitigation Requirements in State Programs for Ephemeral, Intermittent and Perennial Streams in the United States, click here.