Granting Exclusive Use of Wetland Area
Views of wetlands are wastelands and sources of disease that may only be redeemed via reclamation is an anachronistic viewpoint. Today, the multiple ecological functions wetlands play are becoming increasingly widely recognized, according greater priority to their protection. This chapter addresses some of legal instruments granting exclusive use of wetland areas in the USA. Given the fragile nature of wetlands coupled with the social costs of wetland destruction, the US Congress established a permitting program in the 1977 Amendments to the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA), specifically to preserve wetlands from unintentional or intentional destruction. In addition, “adjacent” wetlands, which may have never been inundated by the waters of the actual wetlands, are subject to federal regulation. “General permits” are issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers for activities likely to have a minimal adverse impact on wetlands, and “individual permits” are mandatory for activities likely to have significant impacts on wetlands such as dredge and fill activities. Unfortunately, isolated wetlands with no “significant nexus” to any navigable water body (30–60% of US wetlands) are not subject to this revised federal law, limiting their protection.
KeywordsDisease Ecological functions Protection USA Clean Water Act CWA Adjacent wetlands General permits Army Corps of Engineers Individual permits Dredge and fill Isolated wetlands
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