How To Stop Wetland Destruction

For help stopping the destruction of a wetland, contact CEDS at 410-654-3021 or

What Is A Wetland?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers defines a wetland as…

“those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands are transitional areas between open water and dry land and are often found along bays, lakes, rivers and streams. Examples include bottomland forests, swamps, bogs, marshes, wet meadows and seasonal wet woods.”

To see wetlands in your area, visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Wetland Inventory mapper site at:

What Are The Threats To Wetlands?

A 2001 USEPA factsheet, Threats to Wetlands, lists the following…

  • “Hydrologic Alterations:
    • Deposition of fill material for development.
    • Drainage for development, farming, and mosquito control.
    • Dredging and stream channelization for navigation, development, and flood control.
    • Diking and damming to form ponds and lakes.
    • Diversion of flow to or from wetlands.
    • Addition of impervious surfaces in the watershed, thereby increasing water and pollutant runoff into wetlands.
  • Pollution Inputs:
    • Runoff from urban, agricultural, silvicultural, and mining areas.
    • Air pollution from cars, factories, and power plants.
    • Old landfills and dumps that leak toxic substances.
    • Marinas, where boats increase turbidity and release pollutants.
  • Vegetation Damage:
    • Grazing by domestic animals.
    • Introduction of nonnative plants that compete with natives.
    • Removal of vegetation for peat mining.”

If this 2001 factsheet were written today, no doubt climate change and sea level rise would figure prominently in this list.

CEDS specializes in helping to stop wetland destruction due to development, impervious surfaces, pollution inputs, as well as other hydrologic alterations.

How To Prevent Development From Damaging Wetlands?

CEDS can help stop wetland destruction due to a long list of proposed development projects:

  • Housing and other residential projects,
  • Mixed use, planned developments, and other PUDs,
  • Shopping, gas stations, convenience stores and other commercial projects,
  • Landfills, transfer stations, and other waste management or recycling projects,
  • Mining, quarrying and other forms of extraction, and
  • Many more.

Over the past 40 years, CEDS has developed a unique approach for gaining the benefits of growth without causing harm to wetlands, nearby residents or communities. This approach is far more successful than the traditional strategy of hiring an attorney to block a wetlands permit or other approval. The CEDS approach not only succeeds more often but it also far less expensive. It begins by exploring options for resolving wetland impacts while allowing good development projects to proceed.

First, Design Wetland Impacts Out Of A Project

Most of the impacts due to proposed development are a result of roads that would cross through a wetland. Frequently, CEDS can find ways of either eliminating the road impact or substantially reducing the harm in ways that allow an otherwise sound development proposal to proceed. 

Another major cause of wetland impact is a result of covering nearby forest and farm soils with building, streets, parking lots and other impervious surfaces. A large quantity of pollution is washed from these impervious surfaces with each rain. Furthermore, impervious surfaces prevent rain from soaking into the earth and recharging the groundwater that keeps wetlands wet come dry weather. Both impervious surface impacts can frequently be resolved if all runoff is treated with highly-effective Best Management Practices (BMPs).

After identifying these Equitable Solutions to wetland impacts, CEDS can then contact the developer-applicant, on our clients’ behalf, to explore their willingness to adopt our proposed measures.

Second, Seek The Support Of Regulatory Staff

Frequently, a permit or other approval is required from the federal government (US Army Corps of Engineers), state and even a local government agency before a wetland, stream or river can be directly impacted by development. CEDS can frequently convince permit review staff to require an applicant to consider an Equitable Solution that resolves wetland impacts. 

Third, Block The Wetland Permit Or Other Key Approval

If a development project has been so poorly planned that wetland impacts are unavoidable, then no option may remain other than seeking to prevent the issuance of a wetland permit. Generally, this goal is easiest to achieve if approval is required by a local (town, city or county) government.

In many places local government approval is not required for wetland or stream impacts. However, other approvals, like a rezoning, conditional use or special exception permit may be required. Frequently, CEDS can help our clients show that wetland impacts combined with other adverse effects of a poorly-planned project fail to comply with one or more of the findings required to grant a zoning change or a permit-approval. 

The likelihood of success is always higher if a local elected body is the decision-maker for a permit-approval. When this is the case then mobilizing widespread support for denying approval, using methods described at the following CEDS webpage, is essential to success:

If it is necessary to engage an attorney, then the CEDS Smart Legal Strategies approach will greatly increase the likelihood of success while minimizing legal expenses. CEDS also has a nationwide network of attorneys that specialize in helping people protect wetlands, other environmental resources and their neighborhoods:

Examples Of CEDS Analyses Of Wetland Preservation Options

Here are links to a few examples of how CEDS has helped preserve wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources throughout the nation. To discuss how we can be of assistance to your wetland preservation efforts, contact CEDS at 410-654-3021 or

Also, see the CEDS Protecting Rivers, Lakes, & Wetlands from Land Development Impacts webpage: