Wetlands

 

 

 

 

Wetlands are protected by both state and federal agencies due to their functions and values to humans and the natural environment. Wetlands are identified by the presence of hdyrophytic plants, hydric soils and indications of surface or subsurface water. The proper identification and delineation of wetlands is vital at the beginning of project planning. Aqua-Terra is fully experienced in all aspects of wetland identification, delineation, impact minimization, permitting, design, mitigation construction and monitoring. Aqua-Terra is also recognized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the PA Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) as qualified to conduct surveys for the wetland dependent bog turtle.

WETLAND REGULATORY AUTHORITY & DEFINITIONS

Wetlands fall under the regulatory authority of both Federal and State agencies. Federal laws governing wetland areas are found in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. These acts are administered, implemented and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s wetland regulations are included in Title 25 - Environmental Protection, Chapter 105 - Dam Safety and Waterway Management and are under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's (PADEP) jurisdiction, with assistance from County Conservation Districts.

For regulatory purposes, wetlands are identified by the criteria established by the 1987 Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual (1987 Manual). Both USACE and PADEP define wetlands as those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal conditions do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, bogs, marshes, and similar areas.

WETLAND CHARACTERISTICS

The interaction of hydrology, vegetation and soil results in the development of characteristics unique to wetland environments. Wetlands possess, under normal conditions, all three of the following characteristics: hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soils, and wetland hydrology. Positive wetland indicators of all three parameters are usually present in wetlands. Although vegetation is often the most readily observed parameter, sole reliance on vegetation or either of the other two parameters as the determinant of wetlands can sometimes be misleading. Many plant species grow successfully in both wetland and non-wetland areas. Hydrophytic vegetation and hydric soils may persist for decades following alteration of hydrology that will render an area a non-wetland. The presence of hydric soils and wetland hydrology indicators in addition to vegetation indicators provides a logical, easily defensible and technical basis for determining the presence of wetlands.

TYPES OF WETLANDS

Palustrine Emergent (PEM) Wetland - Chester Co., June 2003 Palustrine Emergent (PEM) Wetland

 

Palustrine Scrub Shrub (PSS) Wetland - Lehigh Co., November 2005 Palustrine Scrub Shrub (PSS) Wetland - Schuylkill Co., October 2004

 

Palustrine Forested (PFO) Wetland - Berks Co., April 2004 Palustrine Forested (PFO) Wetland - Schuylkill Co., December 2004