Wetlands State Resource Locator

State Wetlands Information Tool (SWIFT)


Rhode Island

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 Rhode Island? Rhode Island's wetlands are overseen by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Coastal Management Resources Council. The director of the DEM creates map surveys of the state that indicate wetland areas. The Department has an expedited procedure to issue permits for activities that present an insignificant alteration to freshwater wetlands.

    Mitigation Measures. To obtain a permit, an applicant must demonstrate that the proposed activity is not undesirable. A proposed activity is considered undesirable until the applicant demonstrates that it will provide mitigation to restore wetland functions and values. The Rhode Island Coastal Resource Management Council requires wetland mitigation for all alterations to coastal wetlands. Projects that involve permanent changes or loss of coastal wetlands are to be mitigated at a two-to-one ratio.

Regulatory Definitions
    Wetlands. Fresh water wetlands are defined as areas that "include but are not limited to marshes, swamps, bogs, ponds, rivers, river and stream flood plains and banks, areas subject to flooding or storm flowage, emergent and submergent plant communities in any body of fresh water including rivers and streams, and the area of land within fifty feet of the edge of any bog, marsh, swamp, or pond."

    Regulated Wetland Activities. Persons may not excavate, drain, or fill; place trash, garbage, sewage, highway runoff, drainage ditch effluents, earth, rock, borrow, gravel, sand, clay, peat, or other materials or effluents upon any wetland; divert water flow into or out of wetlands; dike; dam; divert; or change any fresh water wetland without permission from the DEM.

    Exempt Wetland Activities. Normal farming activities are exempt from the law's requirements. Limited maintenance and repair activities, demolition of buildings, limited changes to single family residences, emergency environmental protection, utility lines and emergencies, monitoring and research activities, temporary recreation structures, moorings and anchorage, and emergency water withdrawal activities do not require written permission from the Department.

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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