EPA 903-R-97-002 CBP/TRS-160/97
Vita!  Link

                 Chesapeake Bay Program

The Chesapeake Bay Program is a unique regional partnership leading and
directing restoration of Chesapeake Bay since 1983. The Chesapeake Bay
Program partners include the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia;
the District of Columbia; the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative
body; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which represents the
federal government; and participating citizen advisory groups.

In the 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement,, Chesapeake Bay Program partners set
a goal to reduce the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Bay by 40%
by the year 2000. In the 1992 Amendments to the Chesapeake Bay Agreement,
partners agreed to maintain the 40% goal beyond the year 2000 and to attack
nutrients at their source—upstream in the tributaries. The Chesapeake
Executive Council, made up of the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and
Virginia; the mayor of Washington, D.C; the EPA administrator; and the chair
of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, guided the restoration, effort in 1993 with
five directives addressing key areas of the restoration, including the tributaries,
toxics, underwater bay grasses, fish passages, and agricultural nonpoint source
pollution.  In  1994, partners outlined initiatives for habitat restoration of
aquatic, riparian, and upland environments; nutrient reduction in the Bay's
tributaries; and toxics reductions, with an emphasis on pollution prevention.

The 1995 Local Government Partnership Initiative engages the watershed's
1,650 local governments in the Bay restoration effort. The Chesapeake
Executive Council followed this in 1996 by adopting the Local Government
Participation Action Plan and the Prioritiesfor Action for Land, Growth and
Stewardship in the Chesapeake Bay Region, which address land use
management,  growth and development, stream corridor protection, and
infrastructure improvements,  A1996 riparian forest buffers initiative furthers
the Bay Program's commitment to improving water quality and enhancing
habitat with the goal of increasing riparian buffers on 2,010 miles of stream and
shoreline in the watershed by the year 2010.

Since its inception, the Chesapeake Bay Program's highest priority has been the
restoration of the Bay's living resources—its finfish, shellfish., bay grasses, and
other aquatic  life and wildlife. Improvements include fisheries and habitat
restoration, recovery of bay grasses, nutrient reductions, and significant
advances in estuarine science.

Chesapeake Wetlands:

         The Vital Link
     Between the Watershed
          and the Bay
          March 1997
           Chesapeake Bay Program
     Printed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
         for the Chesapeake Bay Program


                                 Table of Contents
Introduction 	  1
The Bay's Wetlands	  3
Causes of the Change	  6
Trends in Wetlands 	  8
Wetland Loss Hot Spots  	  11
Future of the Bay's Wetlands	  12
The Bottom Line	,  .  14
For more information	  15
Selected readings	  15

Facts, Maps and Figures
Chesapeake Bay Watershed map	  2
Distribution of wetlands in the Chesapeake watershed	  3
Wetlands in the landscape	  4
Common recognizable hydrophytes	  5
Wetland functions and values	  7
Causes of estuarine marsh loss	  8
Changes in wetlands by state	  9
Causes of wetland losses	'.	  10


        s the nation's largest
        estuary, Chesapeake
        Bay figures promi-
nently in our country's history.
When the Europeans first
appeared, the Bay was used as
a watery highway that
stretched deep into uncharted
lands. Soon, like the Native
Americans had learned long
before them, the settlers
realized the seemingly bound-
less riches of the Bay. Year
after year, the Bay offered up
more and more of her fish,
shellfish, and waterfowl to
those  willing to work her
waters. For centuries, the
supply seemed limitless.

Finally, by the late 1800s,
there were signs that there
was indeed a limit to the Bay's
resources. Well into the
1900s, degradation of the
Bay's water quality along with
over-harvesting and rapid
development combined to
cause  severe declines in the
Bay's water quality and
productivity. Several of the
plant and animal populations
plummeted to catastrophically
low levels. The decline has
continued until today, with
many  plants and animals now
mere shadows of their historic
Recognizing the critical status
of the Chesapeake, the
Chesapeake Bay Program set
forth specific goals in the
1987 Chesapeake Bay
Agreement to restore this
great body of water— by
controlling nutrients and
toxics and restoring the plants
and animals, along with their
habitat. Scientists and
managers are now focusing on
protecting and restoring
wetlands as part of this effort.

During the past 30 years, our
knowledge about wetlands
and their functions and values
has increased greatly. We
now know that wetlands are
important natural resources
that benefit society—not mere
"swamps" that are best filled
in. Wetlands are vital habitats
for many plants and animals;
the majority of our threatened
and endangered plant species
depend on these habitats for
their survival. Wetlands are
among the most productive
natural ecosystems in the
world, with certain types of
wetlands rivaling corn fields.
Wetlands also directly benefit
people by improving water
quality, reducing flood and
storm damage, minimizing
erosion, supporting tourism,
hunting and fishing, and
offering sustainable yields of

Because wetlands are
important to people, they are
accorded a certain degree of
protection under the law.
Federal and state governments
regulate development
activities such as dredging and
filling in wetlands. Despite
these controls, wetlands, like
other natural areas, remain
under increasing pressure for
development as our
population increases.

The Chesapeake Bay Program,
in its effort to measure
progress in protecting and
restoring wetlands throughout
the •watershed, committed to
performing a status and trends
survey of Chesapeake
wetlands every five years. The
information from these
surveys will guide the
management actions needed
to achieve the Chesapeake
Bay Program's commitment to
a "no-net loss" of wetlands in
the short term, and ultimately,
a "net gain" in wetlands across
the watershed. This booklet
summarizes the findings of the
first survey.
Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed
                                120 miles

 The Bay's  Wetlands.
        he Chesapeake Bay
        consists of an ex-
        tremely diverse
landscape of 64,000 square
miles drained by an intricate
network of freshwater and
tidal rivers and streams. The
Bay's watershed embraces six
states: New York, Pennsylva-
nia, Delaware, West Virginia,
Maryland, and Virginia and the
District of Columbia. It covers
territory from the Appalachian
Province through the rolling
Piedmont Plateau, down to the
flat Atlantic Coastal Plain. The
differences in these provinces
are reflected in the great
variety of wetlands throughout
the Chesapeake basin.

A fundamental knowledge of
wetlands and their characteris-
tics is critical in understanding
the importance of these areas
in our everyday lives. Many
publications already have
covered the basic science of
wetlands in great detail, includ-
ing thorough descriptions of
wetland types, their character-
istics, and the functions and
values of wetlands. Since these
important subjects have been
covered elsewhere, this book-
let explains them only briefly.
Selected readings that cover
wetland science more compre-
hensively are listed at the end
of this booklet.
Wetland Types
Wetlands include marshes,
swamps, and bogs as -well as
the shallow water portions of
rivers, lakes, and ponds. They
are lands that are permanently
or regularly flooded or remain
saturated for extended periods
of time during the growing
season. Although many wet-
lands border other water
bodies, some are found in
upland depressions where
surface or groundwater pools
or on the slopes of areas with
groundwater discharge. The
presence of water in these
areas affects the development
of soils and the types of plants
and animals able to survive.
Wetlands are, therefore,
defined by the predominance
of "hydrophytes" (plants
adapted for life in wet soils)
and the presence of "hydric
soils" (periodically saturated or
flooded soils).

Several wetland types occur
throughout the Chesapeake
watershed due to its variability
in topography, climate, soil,
hydrology, salinity, vegetation,
and other factors. Scientists,
however, often group wet-
lands into two general catego-
          Distnbution of Wetlands in
          the Chesapeake Watershed
                  West Virginia
                       1%    Delaware
                                         New York
Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

ties: estuarine wetlands and
palustrine wetlands. Estua-
rine wetlands are tidally
flooded by salt or brackish
water and are found chiefly
along the shores of Chesa-
peake Bay and its tidal rivers.
In contrast, palustrine wet-
lands are freshwater. They are
situated on the floodplains
bordering rivers and streams,
fringing the shorelines of lakes
and ponds, filling isolated
depressions, and covering
broad flat areas at or near sea
level where water may collect
(such as many areas on the
Delmarva Peninsula). Some
palustrine wetlands exist in the
tidal freshwater portions of
rivers such as the Potomac,
Nanticoke, and James.

Wetlands are further character-
ized by their vegetation as: 1)
emergent wetlands (com-
monly called marshes and wet
meadows) dominated by
grasses, sedges, and other
herbaceous or non-woody
plants; 2) shrub wetlands
(including shrub swamps and
bogs) characterized by low to
medium-height woody plants;
and 3) forested wetlands
(largely wooded swamps and
bottomland hardwood forests)
dominated by trees.

The Status and Trends of
the Bay's Wetlands
The most up-to-date informa-
tion on the status and recent
trends in wetlands for the
Chesapeake watershed comes
from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service study funded by the
Chesapeake Bay Program.
Using a statistical sampling
design, researchers determined
changes in the watershed's
wetlands between 1982 and
1989. Seven hundred and sixty
sample plots of four square
miles each were randomly
selected within each state and
evaluated for change using
photointerpretation. By com-
paring an aerial photo of a plot
taken at one time with a
subsequent photo of the same
area, scientists could deter-
mine the acreage of wetlands
at each of the two times and
quantify the amount of wet-
land loss or gain over that time

Due to the vast size of the
Chesapeake Bay watershed,
this study used a statistical
approach to estimate total
acres of wetlands. This ap-
proach is very useful but
cannot attain the accuracy of
more comprehensive methods
such as those used by the
National Wetlands Inventory
(NWI). The Bay Program has
committed to recording all
wetlands in the watershed
using NWI, to be completed in

The current study's statistical
analysis provided critical
information on the loss and
gain of wetlands by state and
physiographic region from
1982 to 1989. Since 1989,
wetland management changes
have further protected and
restored wetlands. Conse-
quently, potential improve-
ments in wetland protection
and restoration are unknown
                         Wetlands in the Landscape
                                   Overflow Deepwater Overflow
                                   Wetland  Habitat  Wetland
                                        Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

 and will be captured in subse-
 quent status and trends re-
 ports. This document summa-
 rizes the study's findings on
 the status and recent trends of
 wetlands in the Chesapeake

 Current Static of Wetlands
 More than 1.5 million acres of
 wetlands exist in the Chesa-
 peake watershed. This number
 represents about 4 percent of
 the 64,000-square mile basin,
 about 1.4 times the size of
 Delaware or one-quarter the
 size of Maryland. Most of the
 wetlands are palustrine (1.3
 million acres), with only
 200,000 acres of estuarine
 About 40 percent of the
 watershed's wetlands occur in
 Virginia, with another 27
 percent in Maryland. The
 tidally flooded lowlands and
 relatively flat landscape of the
 Coastal Plain in the eastern
 portion of these  states favor
 the formation of wetlands and
 result in significant wetland
 acreage in these  states. New
 York and Pennsylvania account
 for another 11 and 14 percent
 of the watershed's wetlands,
 respectively. Delaware and
 West Virginia, combined,
 contribute about 7 percent.
Most of the estuarine and
palustrine wetlands are found
on the coastal plain; together
these wetlands constitute over
half of the watershed's total
wetland acreage.
            Common Recognizable Hydrophytes

Common Name                Botanical Name
Swamp white oak
Northern white cedar
Green ash
Black spruce
Water tupelo
Highbush cranberry
Small cranberry
Swamp azalea
Swamp privet
Swamp rosemallow
Royal fern
Sensitive fern
Common cattail
Soft-stem bulrush
Wool grass
Skunk cabbage
Round-leaved sundew
Pitcher plant
American burreed
Common arrowhead
Common reed
Purple loosestrife
Cardinal flower
New York ironweed
Alligator weed
 Quercus bicolor
 Thuja occidentalis
 Fraxinus pennsylvanica
 Picea marina
 Larix laricina
 Nyssa aquatica
 Vacdnium trilobum
 Vacdnium oxycoccus
 Chamaedaphne calyculata
 Cephalanthus occidentalis
 Rhododendrum viscosum
 Ilex verticillata
 Forestiera acuminata
 Hibiscus moscheutos
 Osmunda regalis
 Onoclea sensibilis
 Typha latifolia
 Sdrpus validus
 Sdrpus cyperinus
 Symplocarpus foetidus
 Drosera rotundifolia
 Sarracenia purpurea
 Sparganium americanum
 Sagittaria latifolia
 Phragmites autralis
 Lythrum salicaria
 Lobelia cardinalis
 Vernonia noveboracensis
Alternanthera philoxeroides
From: Welsch. D.J., D.L Smart, J.N. Boyer, P. Minkin, H.C. Smith, and T.L McCandless,
1995, Forested Wetlands: Functions, Benefits, and the Use of Best Management
Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

 Causes  of the  Change
        etlands are subjected
        to both human-
        induced and natural
forces that either diminish or
expand the amount of wet-
lands—that is, they result in a
loss or gain in the acreage of a
wetland. Three types of
changes are discussed: losses,
alterations, mid. gains.
X,oss occurs when a wetland
changes such that it no longer
exhibits the characteristics of
a wetland. For example, a
wetland is lost when filled to
create a shopping mall or
excavated to become a pond.
This type of change results in
the elimination of a wetland.
Alteration occurs when a
wetland changes from one
wetland vegetation type to
another. These alterations can
result from forestry, sea level
rise, nutria foraging, beaver
dams, fire, and succession. For
example, a shrub wetland can
be altered to an emergent
wetland by clearing shrub
vegetation and leaving only
herbaceous plants. Such a
change results in the loss of a
shrub wetland with a simulta-
neous gain of an emergent
wetland. Alterations may
change a wetland's functions
and values for several decades.
Gain occurs when a new
wetland is formed (either
naturally or artificially) from
upland or open water. This
type of change results in the
creation of a wetland. When
development displaces wet-
lands, mitigation of that loss is
often required by law through
the creation of a new wetland

All of these losses and gains
are totaled to estimate the net
change in acreage of a wet-
land type. A net change can
be either a net loss or a net
gain. For example, the overall
losses and  gains of palustrine
shrub wetlands between 1982
and 1989 were combined to
yield the net change in
palustrine  shrub wetlands
(which happened to  be a net

The major causes of wetland
loss in the Chesapeake Bay
watershed from 1982 to 1989
are outlined below:

Human Activities
•  Pond and lake
   construction - impound-
   ing or excavating  and
   flooding wetlands for
   water supply, flood protec-
   tion, recreation, and other

•  Coastal impoundment
   construction - diking and
   flooding coastal wetlands
   to create brackish water
   impoundments for water-
   fowl use, aquaculture, or
   other purposes.

•  Agriculture - draining and
   clearing wetlands for crop

•  Urban development -
   filling wetlands for houses,
   industrial facilities, ports,
   commercial buildings,
   highways, airports, and
   other purposes.

•  Other development -
   Channelizing (excavating)
   wetlands for navigation
   and flood protection;
   timber harvesting; draining
   wetlands for farmland and
   urban land; sand and gravel
   mining; and mosquito

Natural Forces

•  Rising sea level

•  Erosion and accretion

•  Animal activities - (e.g.,
   muskrat, nutria, and goose
   "eat-outs" and beaver

Human activities are particu-
larly important in determining
the fate of wetlands. Unfortu-
nately, most of these activities
are harmful to -wetlands-
converting them to farmland or
dry land for development or
degrading their quality by
                                       Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

pollution—but some changes
can be reversed. Restoration of
previously drained wetlands
can return these areas to
valuable habitat. Government
agencies are restoring hun-
dreds of acres of wetlands in
the watershed through pro-
grams such as Maryland's
"Waterfowl Habitat Improve-
ment Program," the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service's "Partners
for Wildlife Program," and the
U.S.D.A. Natural Resources
Conservation Service's "Wet-
land Reserve Program." Private
organizations, notably Ducks
Unlimited and The Nature
Conservancy, also provide
significant assistance in restor-
ing wetlands in the Chesapeake
Bay area. (See Resources
Section, on the last page for
organizations.) Those wetland
protection efforts that regulate
impacts to wetlands help to
maintain and enhance our
wetland resources despite
mounting pressures to convert
them to other uses. Under the
North American Waterfowl
Management Plan, valuable
wetland habitats are pur-
chased. The National Wetlands
Coastal Conservation Grants
Act of 1987 provides for similar
         Wetland Functions and Values

The terms "functions" and "values" are sprinkled liber-
ally throughout the text of government documents,
scientific textbooks, and scholarly treatises on wetlands.
Yet to many, these terms are confusing and the words
often are used incorrectly or interchanged. The func-
tions of a wetland are simply the physical and biological
processes operating within the wetland habitat. Values,
on the other hand, are the perceived benefits of a
particular wetland based on human needs, making
them subjective assessments of a wetland's worth.
The functions of a wetland will vary depending on the
wetland's topographic location, size,  substrate, position
relative  to other water bodies, dominant plant species,
and other factors. The variation in these factors at each
site means that every wetland has its own distinctive
ecology. Some common functions of wetlands include:
groundwater recharge and discharge, floodwater
storage, water quality improvement, buffering of the
shoreline from erosion, sediment trapping, habitat for
fisheries and wildlife, and recreation.
A wetland's value is directly related to the functions it
performs. For  example, a wetland that functions as a
habitat for fur-bearing animals has potential value for
those who may want to harvest these animals. Or, a
wetland that is topographically situated to act as a
temporary reservoir for a stream's floodwaters may
have significant value to a town located downstream of
the wetland. The values of any given wetland, therefore,
are dependent upon the needs and wishes of those
living close to the wetland or those wanting to exploit its
Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

 Trends in  Wetlands
       etween 1982 and 1989,
       over 37,000 acres of
       wetlands were turned
into dry land or open water in
the Chesapeake watershed.
This acreage—an area about
the size of Washington, DC—
represents the elimination of
2.5 percent of the palustrine
and estuarine wetlands in the
watershed. Most of the losses
(24,000 acres) were in the
Virginia portion of the water-
Trends in
Estuarine Wetlands
From 1982 to 1989, about 1,000
acres of estuarine emergent
wetlands (salt marshes)—
nearly two square miles—were
lost. Most of the acreage was
lost in Maryland (more than
700 acres), principally through
the conversion of these wet-
lands to open water. This
conversion occurred because of
erosion, rising sea level and
coastal subsidence, and dredg-
                Open Water
      Causes of Estuarine Marsh Loss
                    1982 to 1989
ing. Impoundment construc-
tion (i.e., ponds) was also a
significant contribution. Agri-
culture and other development
were also major causes of
estuarine wetland loss. Regula-
tion of urban expansion into
wetlands has reduced the
impacts of urban development
since the 1970s.

Trends in Palustrine
(Freshwater) Wetlands
     Emergent Wetlands
Recently, palustrine emergent
wetlands (freshwater marshes)
have experienced a net loss of
over 4,000 acres in the Chesa-
peake watershed.

Agricultural conversion of
these emergent wetlands was
the most significant factor in
their decline, accounting for
over half of the loss. Diking
and excavation for pond
construction was also a major
cause of emergent wetland loss.
All states except Pennsylvania
had net losses in these
wetlands. The net gain in
Pennsylvania of 3,000 acres
resulted primarily from
sediment accretion and the
revegetation of ponds and the
shallow water portions of lakes
and reservoirs.
                                       Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

Changes in the Vegetated Wetlands for the Portions of Each State
Within the Bay Watershed and for the Entire Watershed
New York
West Virginia
541 ,021
Changed to
other Veg.
Changed from
other Veg.
from other
       Shrub Wetlands
From 1982 to 1989, palustrine
shrub wetlands showed a net
loss of 1,000 acres throughout
the watershed.

Over 80 percent of the
palustrine shrub wetland loss
resulted from conversion of the
wetlands to open water, mostly
for reservoirs. Agricultural
conversion also contributed
significantly to shrub wetland

      Forested Wetlands
Palustrine forested wetlands
experienced the greatest net
loss of all wetland types in the
Chesapeake watershed. From
1982 to 1989, they showed  a net
loss of over 14,000 acres.
Nearly 26,000 acres of forested
wetlands were altered to
become emergent or shrub
wetlands—18,000 acres of these
alterations resulted from
timber harvest. Some of these
new emergent or shrub wet-
lands will eventually revert to
forested wetlands if they are
managed for silviculture.

The heaviest losses in forested
wetlands occurred in Virginia,
where about 11,000 acres were
lost through conversion to dry
land or open water. About
2,500 acres were lost in Mary-
land .with about 1,000 more lost
in Delaware's portion of the
Chesapeake watershed. Almost
two-thirds of the lost forested
wetlands were turned into
open water with half of these
conversions from reservoir
construction. Only 200 acres
were lost in Pennsylvania,
while the state experienced a
net gain of 2,548 acres of
forested wetlands due to the
natural succession of scrub-
shrub wetlands.

Urban development and
agricultural conversion also
contributed significantly to the
losses of palustrine forested
wetlands. Of all the vegetated
wetlands, forested wetlands,
were most affected by urban
Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

Causes of
loss from
1982 to
              Causes of
              loss from
               1982 to
                                    Causes of
                                    loss from
                                    1982 to
                    Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

 Wetland Loss Hot Spots
        dentists have identi-
        fied seven regions in
        the Chesapeake
 watershed as "hot spots,"
 where enormous human-
 induced losses of vegetated
 wetlands occurred between
 1982 and 1989. These hot spots
 require increased wetland
 protection to minimize further
 losses. Wetlands in all of these
 areas are in urgent need of
 additional protection com-
 pared to the amount received
 prior to 1989.

     Southeastern Virginia
 Nearly 4,000 acres of forested
 wetlands were lost and turned
 into housing developments
 and farmland. Seasonally
 saturated and temporarily
 flooded palustrine forested
 wetlands were the areas most
 affected. These types of
 forested wetlands are not being
 regulated by the federal
 government since they fail to
 meet all the requirements for
 regulated wetlands.

     Piedmont of Virginia
 About 17,000 acres of
 palustrine vegetated wetlands
 were lost, representing a 10
 percent loss of the emergent
 wetlands, 23 percent of the
shrub wetlands, and 4 percent
 of the forested wetlands that
existed in 1982. Reservoir and
lake construction were respon-
 sible for over 80 percent of the
 losses, with pond construction
 affecting another 10 percent.

  Eastern Shore of Maryland
 Over 4,000 acres of palustrine
 vegetated wetlands were lost—
 mostly forested and emergent
 wetlands. The 1,700 acres of
 emergent wetlands lost repre-
 sent a 17 percent loss since
 1982. Agricultural conversion
 and pond construction caused
 most of these losses. Forested
 wetland losses resulted from
 various activities, ranging from
 agriculture and open water
 construction to urban and rural

     Western Delaware
 Nearly 2,000 acres of palustrine
 emergent wetlands were lost,
 almost half of the emergent
wetlands that existed in this
part of the state in 1982. These
impacts were due primarily to
agricultural conversion. Simul-
taneously, almost 700 acres of
forested wetlands were de-
 stroyed, also largely due to
 agricultural conversion.

   Coastal Plain of Virginia
 Almost 2,000 acres of
 palustrine vegetated wetlands
 were lost. Nearly 1,300 acres of
 these losses were due to the
 loss of forested wetlands; more
 than half of these forested
 wetlands were converted to

      Western Virginia -
   Blue Ridge/Appalachian
 This area lost 34 percent of its
 palustrine emergent wetlands
 from 1982 to 1989. About 80
 percent of the 1,500 lost acres
 were converted to cropland.

  Northeastern Pennsylvania
 This area lost about 10 percent
 of its palustrine vegetated
wetlands from 1982 to 1989.
More than half of the losses
were due to pond construction,
with the remainder attributed
to agricultural conversion.
Chesapeake Wetlands: Tlie Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

Future of the Bay rs  Wetlands
        uring the 1980s, we
        saw a dramatic im-
        provement in the
status of estuarine wetlands
along with a continued signifi-
cant decline in palustrine
wetlands. Estuarine wetlands
clearly benefited from stricter
regulations imposed by the
Clean Water Act in 1977 at
both the federal and state
levels. State regulating agen-
cies put similar regulatory
measures in place. Palustrine
wetlands, however, continued
to receive inadequate protec-
tion. Protecting wetlands
through regulatory mecha-
nisms requires the use of a
clear definition of a wetland.
Many areas technically qualify
as wetlands, but may not
qualify legally under current
regulatory definitions. The
Corps of Engineers, for ex-
ample, did not regulate many
of these wetland areas prior to
1989. One common type of
forested wetlands—"winter
wet woods"—did not satisfy
the hydrologic requirement for
a wetland based on the Corps'
wetland delineation manual.
These areas still are not being
regulated despite their com-
mon occurrence.

Managers widely use two
approaches to protect existing
wetlands: acquisition and
regulation. Government agen-
cies and private conservation
organizations often purchase
wetlands or easements on
wetlands and then establish
wildlife refuges, sanctuaries, or
conservation areas. Funding
for these efforts, however, is
limited and the remaining
wetlands cannot be protected
by acquisition alone.

Regulatory programs that
control activities in wetlands
are, therefore, vital in protect-
ing the functions and values of
wetlands. Since 1982, wetland
regulations have changed
dramatically at both the state
and federal level throughout
the watershed. Maryland has
joined Pennsylvania by adopt-
ing statewide wetland regula-
tions. While Delaware and
Virginia's wetland protection
laws have significantly re-
duced the loss of tidal wet-
lands, these states do not have
similar protection for nontidal
wetlands. Virginia, however,
has established a program to
enhance the protection of
nontidal wetlands through
Section 401 of the federal Clean
Water Act. In some cases,
federal administration of
Section 404 of the Clean Water
Act has become more stringent,
such as the restriction of land-
clearing activities in wetlands.
Nevertheless, many of the
losses reported in this docu-
ment have occurred due to
actions outside the authority of
existing regulations. Conse-
quently, we must not only
examine our existing regula-
tory and acquisition programs,
but also strengthen other
efforts that will rrtinimize the
future loss of wetlands.

Many actions—both public and
private—can be taken to
address the alarming trend of
wetland loss. Cooperation
among public agencies, private
citizens, and the private sector
is essential to secure a promis-
ing future for our wetlands.
Individual landowners and
corporations are in a key
position to determine the fate
of wetlands on their properties.
Every citizen—landowner or
not—can help wetlands by
supporting the wetland conser-
vation initiatives. Listed below
are some necessary steps for
the Chesapeake Bay region to
meet the goals of "no net loss
of wetlands," and "long-term
gain" in acreage and function.

Achieving the Wetlands Goals
    This subsection lists several
important actions needed to
achieve the Chesapeake Bay
Program's wetland goals.
           Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

 •  Management Programs.
   Continue to improve exist-
   ing wetlands management
   programs and to promote
   better coordination between
   federal and state manage-
   ment efforts.

 •  Market-based Incentives.
   Develop and implement
   market-based incentives for
   wetlands conservation that
   enhance the benefits for
   developing in non-wetland

 •  Mitigation Banking.
   Develop and implement
   mitigation banks that
   streamline the permitting
   process  and protect the
   overall functions of wet-
   lands in the watershed.

 •  Best Management Prac-
   tices. Encourage the use of
   best management practices
   for land development,
   forestry, and agriculture to
   minimize adverse impacts
   on wetlands.

 •  Land Development.
   Encourage local
   governments to conserve
   wetlands through
   comprehensive plans and
   local ordinances. Encourage
   private developers to use
   innovative development
   designs  that preserve
   wetlands and other open

•  Government-sponsored
   Projects. Minimize the
   impact of government-
   sponsored projects on
   wetlands and—when
   damage  cannot be
   prevented—replace lost
   wetland acreage and the
   associated functions.
 • Wetlands Restoration.
   Identify and prioritize
   (preferably on a watershed
   basis) areas where wetlands
   can be restored, enhanced,
   or created.

 • Buffer Areas around
   Wetlands. Provide
   incentives that encourage
   private landowners to
   voluntarily maintain and
   establish vegetated buffers
   around wetlands and along
   other water bodies.

 • Data on Wetlands.
   Accurately measure the
   status and trends of
   wetlands acreage and
   functions in all areas of the
   Bay watershed.

 • Public Education.
   Continue to encourage and
   promote public outreach
   efforts that inform citizens
   of the watershed about the
   importance of wetlands.

 •  Research. Promote
   research to increase our
   understanding and
   knowledge of the complex
   functioning of wetland
Ways the Public can Help
Achieve the "No Net Loss" Goal
•  Identify wetlands on your
   property and avoid these
   areas during any project

•  Learn about the habitat
   values of wetlands on your
   property and the types of
   plants and animals that
   inhabit or frequent the area.

•  Maintain vegetated buffer
   areas around wetlands to
   conserve their habitat
   values for fish and wildlife.
 Encourage local govern-
 ments and private develop-
 ers to adopt innovative land
 use planning that would
 conserve wetlands.

 Comment on public notices
 and attend public hearings
 concerning wetland permits
 and regulations.

 Donate wetlands or funds
 for the purchase and man-
 agement of wetlands to
 private conservation agen-

 Restore wetlands  on your
 property where former
 wetlands have been de-
 stroyed or degraded (gov-
 ernment financial  and
 technical assistance is often

 Conserve wetlands and
 their values whenever
 possible. When planning to
 use wetlands for produc-
 tion, such as hunting,
 trapping, or forestry, con-
 sult federal and state agen-
 cies (e.g., the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service and your
 state departments  of conser-
vation and forestry) to learn
how you can minimize the
impacts of these activities
on your wetlands.
Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay

 The Bottom  Line
        etiands are the vital
        link between the land
        and water, helping to
 improve water quality, storing
 water temporarily to prevent
 downstream flooding, stabiliz-
 ing shorelines, and providing
 several other beneficial func-
 tions. If we are to continue
 receiving these benefits, the
 trends observed in the 1980s
 and earlier must be reversed.

 We must continue to support
 those wetland conservations
 efforts that have already
 dramatically slowed the loss of
 estuarine wetlands. Our
 attention, however, must now
 focus on the palustrine
 wetlands which remain under
 the onslaught of development

 The plants and animals of
 Chesapeake Bay depend on the
 health of these wetlands which
 help filter excess nutrients,
 sediments, and other
 pollutants, preventing these
 potentially deleterious
 materials from reaching the
 Bay. We must strengthen
 wetland protection and initiate
 wetland restoration efforts to
 improve the quality of the Bay
 for its plants and animals, for
 ourselves, and for future
                                                                           Laurie Hewitt
Chesapeake Wetlands: The Vital Link Between the Watershed and the Bay



      For information on the federal and state wetland
         regulations, contact the following agencies:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Wetlands Section
841 Chestnut Building
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 566-9800
Wetlands Hotline (800) 832-7828

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
District Engineer
Baltimore District
Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 1715
Baltimore, MD 21203
(410) 962-3670
District Engineer
Pittsburgh District
Corps of Engineers
Federal Building
1000 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 644-4204
District Engineer
Norfolk District
Corps of Engineers
Fort Norfolk,
803 Front Street-
Norfolk, VA 23510
(804) 441-7652
Delaware Dept. of Natural
  Resources and Environmental
Division of Water Resources
Dover, DE 19903
(302) 739-4691

New York Dept. of
  Environmental Conservation
50 Wolf Road
Albany, NY  12233
(518) 457-7424
Virginia Marine Resources
P.O. Box 756
Newport News, VA 23607
(804) 247-2200

West Virginia Division of
  Natural Resources
P.O. Box 67
Elkins, WV 26241
(304) 637-0245
         Maryland Dept. of the
         Water Management Admin.
         2500 Broening Highway
         Baltimore, MD 21224
         (410) 631-8094

         Pennsylvania Dept. of
            Environmental Protection
         Bureau of Dams, Waterways
            and Wetlands
         P.O. Box 8554
         Harrisburg, PA 17105
         (717) 787-6827

         Virginia Dept. of Environmental
         Water Division
         Virginia Water Protection Permit
         P.O. Box 10009
         Richmond, VA 23240
         (804) 527-5000
 Selected Readings

 Cowardin, L.M., V. Carter, F.C.
 Golet, and E.T. LaRoe. 1979.
 Classification of Wetlands and
 Deepwater Habitats of the United
 States, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
 Special Rpt. FWS/OBS 79/31.131

 Johnson, C.W. 1985. Bogs of the
 Northeast. Univ. Press of New
 England. 269 pp.

 Magee, D.W. Freshwater Wetlands:
 A Guide to Common Indicator Plants
 of the Northeast. 1981. University of
 Mass. Press. 245 pp.

 Mitsch, W.J. and J.G. Gosselink.
 1986. Wetlands. Van Nostrand
 Reinhold Co., Luc. 539 pp.

 Neiring, W.A.  1988. Wetlands:
 Audubon Society Nature Guide.
 Alfred A. Knopf. New York.
 638 pp.
 Tiner, R.W. 1987. A Field Guide to
 Coastal Wetland Plants of the
 Northeastern United States. Univer-
 sity of Mass. Press. 285 pp.

 Tiner, R.W., I. Kenenski, T.
 Nuerminger, J. Eaton, D.B. Foulis,
 G.S. Smith, and W.E. Prayer. 1994.
 Recent Wetland Status and Trends in
 the Chesapeake Watershed (1982-
 1989). Technical Rpt. Prepared by
 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for the
 Chesapeake Bay Program, U.S.
 Environmental Protection Agency.
 Annapolis, MD. 88pp.

 Silberhorn, G.M. 1976. Tidal
 Wetland Plants of Virginia. Educa-
 tion Series No. 19. VA Institute of
 Marine Sciences, Gloucester Pt.,
 VA.  86pp.
Weller, M.W. 1981. Freshwater
Marshes: Ecology and Wildlife
Management. University of Minne-
sota Press. 146pp.

                              Copies of this booklet
                              may be obtained from:
Chesapeake Bay Program
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
410 Severn Avenue, Suite 109
Annapolis, Maryland 21403
(800) YOUR BAY
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
177 Admiral Cochrane Drive
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
(410) 573-4500
                           Chesapeake Bay Program