Learn how wetlands are defined by local governments, why they are important, and how laws protective of wetlands may affect you.
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The word “wetland” describes a parcel of land that is saturated with water (whether permanently or seasonally) such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem — meaning that it has types of vegetation and soil particular to wetlands. The major types of wetlands include swamps, marshes, bogs, and fens. These may be further classified based on other criteria, often in different ways, depending on local distinctions.
Wetlands absorb rain water during storms, which helps attenuate flooding. Wetland vegetation slows the velocity of water, which mitigates erosion. Wetlands are also key water purifiers, carbon sinks and shoreline stabilizers. Wetlands are considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Because of this, wetlands are an important education and recreation resource, as a place to learn first-hand about ecology.
Wetlands are crucial to the health of the environment, but are among the most fragile ecosystems. Therefore, local governments require wetland property owners to avoid damaging wetland areas during construction. The only person legally qualified to determine your wetland's boundaries is a Professional Soil Scientist.
The process begins with your calling to explain your needs and schedule a visit. At the visit, we will note vegetation and look at augered soil cores for signs of wetland soil. The boundaries of the wetland will be flagged. You will also receive a formalized report including a map of your wetland that will be used during the permitting process for your project. Naturally, if there is no wetland or watercourse in evidence, the report would certify this instead.
Wetlands boundary assessments must be made by a credentialed Professional Soil Scientist (ideally, one who is also a Professional Wetland Scientist) who will have the training and experience to produce a detailed and complete wetland impact analysis that satisfies local authorities.
You may be surprised to learn that states have different legal definitions for inland wetlands. Connecticut’s definition focuses on wetland soils; Massachusetts: the presence of wetland vegetation; New York and the US Army Corps of Engineers’… well, it’s complicated. Connecticut “watercourses” means rivers, streams, brooks, waterways, lakes, ponds, drainage swales, and all other bodies of water, natural or artificial, vernal or intermittent, public or private. Watercourse regulations, as you've probably already guessed, can also vary from place to place. Properly evaluating your land for wetland soil or watercourses is the first and most important step of your project.
After the boundary assessment, the process would depend on your personal needs. You may need a plan for restoring the wetland due to invasive species or pollution; you may need expert testimony due to nearby development; you may need help understanding how best to approach a home improvement project while preserving your natural space. Whatever your needs, we will work with you to keep the project on track and running smoothly.