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Wetlands FAQs

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I received a letter about wetlands on my property. What is this for?

  • DOEE is visiting wetlands in the District to do a sort of “health check-up” on them. Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI) was awarded a grant to help DOEE with the wetland visits.
  • For more information on the Wetland Mapping Project, please view the Wetland Mapping Project  page.

What is a wetland?

  • There are many types and sizes of wetlands, but all of them must have water long enough each year that will allow plants adapted to wet conditions to grow.  Sometimes wetlands are tricky to spot because the water might only be underground or at certain times of year.
  • By the US Army Corps of Engineers definition, wetlands are areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.
  • For more information about Wetlands in the District, please view the Wetlands in the  District page.

What will they do on my property?

  • Two to four people from DOEE or WSSI will walk the wetlands and take GPS points to map wetlands.
  • They will take photos of the wetlands and notes including:
    • a list of plants,
    • observations about water, and
    • a description of the soil.
  • You do not have to be present during the visit, though you are welcome to be present and observe.

How long will the visit on my property take?

  • The visit will last a few hours and depends on the size of the wetland.

When will the visit occur?

  • The letter you received included an estimated range of months when the visit will be conducted. You will not receive another notification prior to the visit. If you wish to adjust the timing of the visit please contact Rebecca Diehl at [email protected]

Will they damage my property?

  • They may need to look at the soil with a small tool called a hand auger. The hand auger is used to dig a small hole (smaller than the width of a coffee cup).

What will happen with the information that is collected?

  • The information gathered will be used to create a Wetland Registry and to update the District’s Wetland Conservation Plan.

What happens if a wetland is located on my property?

  • Congratulations! Wetlands provide excellent flood protection, increase your chances of spotting rare wildlife and plants in the District, and offer many other important functions critical to the health of our water. For more information visit wetlands in the District.
  • Wetlands are regulated waters of the District and often regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers.For any disturbance or impacts to wetlands the US Army Corp of Engineers and DOEE require a jurisdictional determination and may require a permit. For more information visit Wetlands Permits.

What is the Wetland Conservation Plan?

  • The Wetland Conservation Plan is a document written by DOEE that outlines goals to protect, restore, and enhance the District’s wetlands.  

What is the Wetland Registry?

  • The Wetland Registry will be a website where the public can see the District’s wetlands on one map.
  • The Wetland Registry will allow any member of the public, such as environmental groups, development groups, and DOEE staff to:
    • identify potential restoration, enhancement, and creation projects,
    • identify possible wetland mitigation sites,
    • have an initial idea if wetlands are present for land-planning purposes, and
    • protect our existing wetlands.
  • For more information about visit Wetland Registry.

Are there wetlands in the District?

  • Yes! In 1993, a study estimated 845 acres of wetlands existed in DC, but limited studies have been completed on the District’s wetlands.
  • Historically, much of the original land in the District was wetlands that supported rich biodiversity. For more visit history of wetlands in the District.
  • For more information visit wetlands in the District.

Will the Wetland Registry replace the need to perform wetland delineations for new projects?

  • No. The Wetlands Mapping Project is intended to develop a baseline study of the District’s wetlands.

Will the Wetland Registry replace the need for a jurisdictional determination?

  • No. Jurisdictional determinations by both the US Army Corps of Engineers and DOEE will still be required.

Will every wetland in the District be mapped and included in the Wetland Registry?

  • Although DOEE and WSSI will not be able to visit every wetland in the District, a large percentage of wetlands will be studied and will provide invaluable insight into the state of the District’s wetlands.