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.
How Are Wetlands Activities Regulated by Washington? Wetlands in the coastal zone are monitored by the Department of Ecology (DOE) according to provisions in the Shoreline Management Act of 1971. The Act creates a program where responsibility for shoreline management is shared between local governments and the state. Local governments initiate the planning and administer the regulatory program required by the Act. The Department of Ecology supports, reviews, and assists local government programs and insures compliance with the Act. In addition, DOE issues water quality certifications for wetlands outside the coastal zone.
Mitigation Measures. The Department of Ecology is authorized to establish rules for the certification, operation, and monitoring of wetlands; the determination and release of wetland credits from banks; public involvement in the certification of banks; coordination of government agencies; establishment of criteria for bank service areas; performance standards; and long term management of banks. State agencies and local governments can approve the use of bank credits for any mitigation they require to compensate for the impact of a specific public or private project. Mitigation measures are not required for adverse impacts that occurred when the wetland was filled, if the wetland was filled according to provisions in Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 75.20.300. See: https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Wetlands/Mitigation.
Wetlands. Wetlands are "areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal conditions do support, a prevalence or vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions." They generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. This definition can cover artificial wetlands intentionally created from nonwetland areas to mitigate the conversion of wetlands.
Wetland Categories. The Shoreline Management Act does not create wetland classes, but other state water quality laws differentiate between wetland types. Washington's water rights provisions, for example, separate constructed beneficial use wetlands from constructed treatment wetlands.
Regulated Wetland Activities. Pursuant to § 401 certification authority, discharge of dredged or fill material is regulated. In addition, under the Shoreline Management Act "developments" in shoreline areas must be consistent with the Act's policy and guidelines. "Substantial developments" cannot occur in shoreline areas without first obtaining a permit from the government entity that has jurisdiction over the land to be developed. A "development" means "a use consisting of the construction or exterior alteration of structures; dredging; filling; removal of any sand, gravel, or minerals; bulkheading; driving of piling; placing of obstructions; or any project of permanent or temporary nature which interferes with the normal public use of the surface of the waters overlying lands subject to the act." A substantial development is a project with total fair market value over $2,500 or any development that materially interferes with the normal public use of the water or shorelines of the state.
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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