Wetlands State Resource Locator

State Wetlands Information Tool (SWIFT)


California

Note: Most states have enacted laws and regulations to protect wetlands. In many cases, these rules are established to define the state's role in the "§404 permit/§401 certification process." This process involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and your state environmental agency. To learn more about the wetlands permitting process go to the CICA Wetlands Regulations/Permit page.

Primary State Wetlands Web Page. This web page should explain the state wetlands program and provide links to various wetlands resources.

Construction Permit Process - State Rules

    How Are Wetlands Activities Regulated by California? The California Environmental Protection Agency and its State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) monitor wetlands in the state. The SWRCB, in particular, is responsible for updating the state's wetland inventory resources. The Board also has authority under the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act to regulate the placement of clean fill dirt into state waters. The Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Fish and Game, and the California Coastal Conservancy preserve wetlands according to provisions in the California Public Resources Code. Wetlands are regulated through a §401 water quality certification process, although The California Coastal Act is the primary statutory scheme regulating activities in coastal wetlands.

    Mitigation Measures. Permits are not granted unless applicants provide feasible mitigation measures for the proposed project. Mitigation for dredge or fill activities must include either the acquisition of equivalent areas of equal or greater biological productivity or opening up equivalent areas to tidal action.30 A fee suitable to provide an area of similar value can be dedicated to a state agency when no restoration site is available. See: http://ceres.ca.gov/wetlands/projects2.html.

Regulatory Definitions
    Wetlands. Wetlands occur where the water table is at, near, or above the land surface long enough to promote the formation of hydric soils or to support the growth of hydrophytes, and includes those areas where vegetation is lacking and soil is poorly developed or absent as a result of frequent or drastic fluctuations of surface water levels, wave action, water flow, turbidity, or high concentrations of salt or other substances in the substrate.

    Wetland Categories. The statutes give priority to protecting wetlands lying within, or adjacent to, existing state parks or other state owned lands protected and managed as a wildlife habitat.

    Regulated Wetland Activities. Discharges into waters that require a federal permit or license also need a §401certification that the discharge complies with state water quality standards. Persons may also need to obtain a coastal development permit for any development in a coastal zone. In the coastal zone the diking, filling, or dredging of wetlands must occur according to the state's coastal resources planning and management policies. This stipulation is limited to the following activities: new or expanded port, energy, and coastal-dependent industrial facilities, including commercial fishing facilities; maintaining existing, or restoring previously dredged, depths in navigational channels, turning basins, vessels berthing and mooring areas, and boat launching ramps; entrance channels for new and expanded boating facilities; incidental public service activities such as burying cable and pipes; mineral extraction; restoration purposes; and nature study, aquaculture, or similar resource-dependent activities.

Wetland Regulatory Background Information Organizations/Non-Government Programs
  • Water Environment Federation. The WEF Web site provides access to a wetlands related technical discussion area, as well as publications and other information on wetlands.

  • Wetlands Regulation Center. The Wetlands Regulation Center Web site contains information on laws, policies and regulations concerning activities regulated under Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act.

  • Association of State Wetland Managers. The Association of State Wetland Managers Web site provides information on wetlands news and events, including new regulations/legislation, upcoming conferences and events, publications, and more.

  • Society of Wetland Scientists. The Society of Wetland Scientists Web site provides access to on-line scientific wetlands journals and a wetlands discussion forum, as well as information on upcoming wetlands conferences and events.

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