Legal Definition of Wetlands
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency jointly define wetlands as:
“Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency or duration sufficient to support and, under normal circumstances, do support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers searches for presence of the following as their criteria for delineating a wetland site:
- Hydrophytic vegetation – plants that have the ability to grow, effectively compete, reproduce, and/or persist in anaerobic soil conditions.
- Hydric soils – soils that are saturated, flooded, or ponded long enough during the growing season for anaerobic conditions to develop.
- Wetland hydrology – inundation by water sufficient to support hydrophytic vegetation and develop hydric soils.
All three criteria must be met for a site to be determined a wetland.