Local governments can
implement conservation
policies that will protect
wetlands while also
saving the community
time and money.
A wetland is an area Of land where the
soils are saturated for a period of time
during the growing season. Wetland
soils contain little or no oxygen, and as
a result support plants adapted to this
condition. In the Northern Great Plains
and Rocky Mountain regions, wetland
plants include cattails, rushes, willows,
sedges and cotton-
woods. Wet mead-
ows, riparian areas
(wot areas near
rivers, ponds,, or
lakes), marshes, and
prairie potholes are
typical wetland
habitats found in
these regions.
County commissioners, city councils, and planners are increasingly faced
w ith making land use decisions that may involve potential impacts to wet-
lands. Since local governments are.familiar with wetland resources in their
communities, they are often aware of what kind of protection is needed. A
comprehensive plan can integrate a wetlands conservation program into a
community's growth scheme. This fact sheet provides general information
about wetlands, as well as guidelines for implementing wetland management
into local land use planning.
Wetlands are dynamic, ecosystems that
serve many purposes and offer many
benefits to a community. Some of the
tangible benefits of wetlands include
flood and storm damage protection,
erosion control, and water quality
improvement. Wetlands also function
as wildlife habitats,, and provide
natural recreation and education
Flood and Storm Damage Pro-
tection: Wetlands have the ability
to hold large Volumes of water and
release it slowly into surrounding
surface and ground waters. During
periods of flooding, storms, and
high run off, wetlands can
absorb water and decrease
the rate of flow, preventing
property damage to the
community. • ¦
Erosion Control: Wet-
lands can provide natural •
buffers between land areas.
Wetland vegetation binds
soils together, decreasing
erosion and promoting
land stability.

Water Quality Improvement and
Maintenance: Wetlands capture
and filter sediments and nutrients that
may be: harmful to surface and ground
water. Oftentimes, urban wetlands act.
as natural filters and reduce pollution
from lawns, streets and parking lots.
"Wildlife Habitat: Wetlands provide
food sources and other.habitat needs
for a variety of fish arid wildlife,.
' including endangered species. Bea-
vers, red-winged blackbirds and
waterfowl are common wetland
inhabitants in the Rocky Mountain and
Northern Great Plains regions.
Recreation: Bird-watchers, hikers,
hunters, fishermen, writers arid artists
collectively seek the aesthetic and
recreational value's associated with
wetlands. Scientists and students :
study and'learn about natural pro-
cesses in wetland areas, which are :
among the most biologically productive
ecosystems in the country.
Communities are placing more value.
on open space and wetlands, giving
county, town,.and city planners the
opportunity to be leaders in the
protection and preservation of these .
vital resources. Local governments
can implement Conservation policies
that protect wetlands while also
saving the community time and
money; For instance, the aesthetic
. qualities of a wetland make commu-
nities desirable places to work and
live. Wetland protection can be
incorporated into-local government
open space, flood control, and
; recreation planning.
Local governments may consider tax
incentives that exempt wetlands from
county property .taxes, and allow . •
personal state-income tax exemption
for money spent on habitat restoration
and-improvement. The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and your state fish and
game agency can provide information
on local wetland resources.
The Army-Corps of Engineers'.and the..
Environmental Protection Agency
jointly administer wetland'regulation.
Section 404 of the nation's" Clean
Water Act regulates any discharge of
dredged or fill material into the waters
of the U.S.,. including wetlands.
Section 404 establishes, a permit
program which ensures that such
discharges comply with requirements.
County,-city, and town planners should
be aware of this permitting process,
since violating the Clean Water Act
carries severe penalties.
EPA can also make money available to
your municipality for identifying
wetlands in your jurisdiction. Contact
EPA to see if you are. eligible for
advanced identification project funds.
A Citizen's Guide to Wetland
Protection in the Rocky Mountain
and Northern Great Plains Regions.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Region 8. 1989. •
Our National Wetland Heritage: A
Protection Guidebook. Dr. Jon A.
Kusleiv The Environmental Law '
Institute, Suite '200,' 1616 P St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.. 20086. 1990.
Our Urban Wetlands: An Endan-
gered Resource. Urban wetlands
video on loan from the U.S. Environ-.
mental Protection Agency. Region 8.
Protecting Coastal and Wetland
Resources: A Guide for Local
Governments. Office' of Water, Office
of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
¦Washington,.D.C. 2.0460. Sept. 1992.
Wetlands Conservation Through
Local Community Programs. College
of .Urban arid Public Affairs, University'
of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
70148. December 1991.
Wetlands Protection and the
. States.. National Conference of State'
Legislatures, 1560 Broadway, Suite
700, Denver, CO 80202. April 1990.
Wetlands Protection: A Local
Government Handbook. American
Planning Association, 1313 E. 60th St,
Chicago, IL 60637., Sept. 19,91.
Please contact:
EPA Wetlands Hotline
1 800-832-7828
M-F 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST.
U.S. EPA Region 8 (8WM-WQ)
999 18th Street, Suite 500
Denver, CO 80202-2466

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