Other Wetland Laws and Programs
In addition to the §404 program, wetlands are
addressed through programs under other parts
of the CWA and under other federal laws.
EPA administers several other programs under
the CWA that regulate wetlands. For example,
EPA has provided guidance to st ates on utiliza-
tion of §401 water quality certic ation to protect
wetlands. Program s for water quality standards
and management of nonpoint source pollution
also involve wetlands. In conjunction with other
agencies, EPA administers programs to protect
and restore the nation’s estuaries. ese programs
often involve many wetland issues. As a n overrid-
ing policy matter, EPA h as been implementin g
the concept of watershed ma nagement and water-
shed protection into all of its CWA program s.
Beca use of the role that wetlan ds can play in
maintain ing water shed he alth, the wa tershe d
approa ch mea ns tha t wetl ands a re now regu-
lated under many EPA prog rams.
A number of federal laws other than the CWA
address wetlands and are administered by agencies
other than EPA and the Corps of Engineers.1 Nota-
bly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in the U.S.
Department of the Interior (DOI), has responsibil-
ity for compiling certain wetland information, such
as wetland inventory maps. It ha s expertise in wet-
land habitat through its resource functions, includ-
ing management of national wildlife refuges, many
of which are wetlands. Its authority to provide com-
ments in many contexts with respect to sh and
wildlife issues frequently involves wetlands. Add i-
tionally, the U.S. Department of Commerce, pri-
marily through the National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA), adminis-
1. is Part does not present a complete discussion of every federal
statute concerning wetlands. Rather, the major federal laws that
address wetlands in whole or in part are summarized.
ters programs related to coasta l zones and marine
sheries that often involve wetland concerns.
e U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
also regulates wetlands in laws related to farming
and agricultural land. Historic wetland loss in the
United States has arisen, in large part, from conver-
sions of wetlands to agricultural use. Between the
mid-1950s and the mid-1970s, almost 14.7 million
acres of freshwater wetlands and 500,000 acres of
saltwater wetlands were lost, mostly to agriculture.2
Conversion to agricultural uses remained the pri-
mary cause of loss of wetlands from the mid-1970s
to the mid-1980s when an additional 2.61 million
acres of wetlands were converted, 54% to agricul-
tural uses.3 Since the mid-1980s, certain federal
agriculture laws have addressed wetland conver-
sion and conservation, establishing programs
to reverse loss of wetlands. e USDA, primar-
ily through the Natural Resource Conservation
Service4 and the Farm Service Agency, generally
administers the federal agricu ltural progra ms con-
cerned with wet lands.
Other federal agencies administer programs
that impact wetlands t hrough property acquisition
and management. e federal government holds
2. H.R. R. N. 271, 99th Cong., pt. 1 (1985), reprinted in 1985
U.S.C.C.A.N., vol. 2, 1191.
3. e Impact of Federal Programs on Wetlands, A Report to
Congress by the Secretary of the Interior, Vol. II, Chap. 2 at 3
(March 1994), reprinted at http://www.doi.gov/oepc/wetlands2/
v2ch2.html. e U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reported
that between 1986 and 1997, a net of 644,000 acres of wetlands
was lost, and that agriculture accounted for 26% of these losses.
Summary Findings, Report to Congress on the Status and Trends
of Wetlands in the Coterminous United States 1986 to 1997,
Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. More
recently, the FWS reported that of forested wetlands lost from
1998 to 2004, 33% was due to agriculture, Status and Trends
of Wetlands in the Coterminous United States 1998-2004.
Both reports are available at http://wetlandsfws.er.usgs.gov/
4. This agenc y was previ ously known as the Soil Conser va-
tion Serv ice.