Wetlands: New Fact Sheet Published on Wetlands Law and Protection

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Once seen as a source of pestilence and waste of land, wetlands are now a central feature of federal and state natural resource protection policy for their water quality, wildlife habitat and coastal resilience benefits. One primary protection vehicle  – the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 (a/k/a the Clean Water Act)  – turns 50 this year. Under the comprehensive federal protection through the Clean Water Act’s Section 404 “dredge and fill” permit program, landowners as well as federal and state regulators have struggled to define when a poorly-drained land feature meets the definition of a wetland under regulation. And then, the line between federal and state wetlands protection jurisdiction has been the subject of much litigation and administrative rule-making.

To explain the relevant issues and help clarify the regulatory roles of federal and North Carolina state government in wetlands protection, Michael Burchell, PhD. and James Kurki-Fox, both of NC State’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and Robert Andrew Branan, JD, of the Department of Agricultural and resource economics, have published a peer-reviewed “Fact Sheet” titled  The Status and Trends of Wetland Loss and Legal Protection in North Carolina.