Wetlands: Nature's Sponges, Nurseries, and Water Filters
Look around. More likely than not, there is a wetland near where you live, work, or play. According to a 1990 report to Congress, wetlands cover approximately 938,000 acres in Washington State, or about 2 percent of the state's total land. Since the 1780s, Washington State has lost 31% of its wetland areas, from 1.35 million acres to 938,000 acres. Wetlands are critical to the overall health of our watersheds. Because of their key role in watershed health, the Department of Ecology is charged with protecting, restoring, and managing our state's remaining wetland resources.
Wetland functions include many that are important to people, including:
The functions that an individual wetland performs depend on its location, surrounding topography, subsurface geology, amount and duration of water, and the types of plants present. While each wetland may not perform all functions, the cumulative value of all wetlands in a watershed makes each important. (Learn more about wetland functions and values.)
Ecology's Role in Protecting, Restoring, and Managing Wetlands
Two state laws, the State Water Pollution Control Act and the
Shoreline Management Act, give Ecology the authority to regulate
wetlands. Ecology also uses the State Environmental Policy
Act (SEPA) process to identify potential wetland-related
concerns early in the permitting process.
Wetland specialists in the regions
review applications for projects that have the potential to
impact wetlands and other "waters of the state."
Local governments, consultants, developers and landowners can find wetland resources and guidance documents by using the side bar to the left. If you have a specific question, contact a wetland specialist (contacts are organized by topic and region).
To receive updated information on Ecology's wetland-related projects sign on to our listserv.
Comment Period: Updates to the Wetland Rating Systems
Wetland Buffers: The State of the Science
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.html.