The United States has become more aware of the importance of wetland laws as well as the benefits of management for lakes and wetlands. Some of the benefits include helping crops grow, property value, and help the ecosystem. Mostly the goods and services that are provided from lakes are for the public and have no market value. This is why the government created regulations and incentives for managing wetlands because they are mainly for the public. Here is how federal laws and agencies protect and preserve America’s wetlands.
Federal Agencies Responsible for Wetland Regulations
- Department of Defense, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps)
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- The Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
- The Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) (formerly the Soil Conservation Service)
Each of the agencies has its own responsibilities and missions that implement wetlands protection. This includes:
- The Corps is responsible for navigation and water supply.
- EPA has authority over protecting wetlands from chemical, physical, and biological integrity.
- FWS’s manages fish as well as wildlife-game species, threatened, and endangered species.
- NOAA is in charge of the Nation’s coastal resources.
- The NRCS is focused on wetlands that are affected by agricultural actives.
The States Involvement in Wetland Protection
The states are becoming more and more involved in the protection of wetlands. There are 29 states that have their own wetland laws since 1993. These laws go beyond federal regulation and add more importance to wetlands. Most of the laws are for coastal wetlands rather than inland wetlands. These states include New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Minnesota.
As stated, there are five different federal agencies that look after wetlands as well as individual states, but there are still problems that exist with wetlands. Some of the conflicts are between landowners and the general public, and developers, and conservationists.
The conflicts stem from differences and opinions and have created modifications in policies. The wetlands have to be preserved and protected and the only way to do that is through cooperation between citizens.
Wetland Protection Programs
Programs have been created to protect the wetlands that are direct and indirect. The main Wetland Protection plan is the Clean Water Act, others are Coastal Management and Coastal Barriers Resources Acts, and “swampbuster”.
Clean Water Act
Most of the wetland protection is implemented through Section 404 which is in The Clean Water Act which was created in 1972. Discharging material into waters has become a main problem and Section 404 puts restrictions on discharging materials into the ocean and wetlands. The discharges are mainly from channel construction, port development, and fills. The Clean Water Act can veto permits of companies if they are discharging materials into water supplies, fishery areas, wildlife, or recreational resources.
In 1993, President Clinton approved a new policy for managing America’s wetland resources. The followed under the Section 404 program and was to regulate the draining of wetlands and dredging and filling of wetlands.
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