Detailed Descriptions of Laws and Programs R-Z

Title:Ramsar Convention Treaty (September 1972, I.L.M. 963-976)
Lead agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), - Office of International Affairs
Quick summary:
The Ramsar treaty can result in increased wetlands protection.
The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl habitats, known as "Ramsar," is an intergovernmental treaty that obligates its 45 signatory nations to consider wetlands conservation in their land-use planning, to promote wise use of their wetlands, to establish wetlands nature reserves, and to encourage wetlands research and data exchange. In addition, each country must designate at least one site for inclusion in a List of Wetlands of International Importance. Countries are also required to promote the conservation of these sites.
Sites on the Ramsar list in the United States as fo 1991 are the Izmbek Lagoon National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia/Florida; Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada; Everglades National Park, Florida; Chesapeake Bay Estuarine Complex, Maryland/Virginia; Cheyenne Bottoms State Game Area, Kansas; Cashe-Lower White Rivers Joint Venture Area, Arkansas; Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin; and Catahoula Lake, Louisiana. The total acreage of these wetlands is nearly 2.8 million.
Some countries prepare a "shadow list" of sites eligable for listing. The United States may do so in the near future.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Office of International Affairs
U.S. Department of the Interior
Arlington Square, Room 860
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Title:Rural Legacy Program (Natural Resources Article, §§5-9A-03, Annotated Code of Maryland)
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Rural Legacy Program
Other organizations involved:Maryland Department of Planning, Maryland Department of Agriculture
The Rural Legacy Program, a keystone of Maryland's "Smart Growth Initiatives," was enacted by the 1997 Maryland General Assembly and signed into law May 22nd of that year. The Program encourages local governments and private land trusts to identify Rural Legacy Areas and to competitively apply for funds to complement existing land conservation efforts or to develop new ones. Easements or fee estate purchases are sought from willing landowners in order to prrotect areas vulnerable to sprawl development that can weaken an area’s natural resources, thereby jeopardizing the economic value of farming, forestry, recreation and tourism. The Rural Legacy Advisory Committee, appointed by the Governor, and confirmed by the Senate, reviews all applications and makes recommendations to the Rural Legacy Board. The Rural Legacy Board, in turn, makes final recommendations to the Governor and the Board of Public Works. The Board of Public Works designates the Rural Legacy Areas and approves the grants for Rural Legacy funding.
Full text of law:Click here for full text
Related laws/programs:Program Open Space
Rural Legacy contacts page

Rural Legacy Administrator
Program Open Space
580 Taylor Avenue, E-4
Annapolis, MD 21401
phone: 410-260-8454
fax: 410-260-8404
Links:Rural Legacy Program website

Title:Saint Mary's County laws
Lead agency/organization:Saint Mary's County Planning and Zoning Department
St. Mary's has established Resource Protection Standards that apply to woodlands and agricultural resources in the Critical Area, streams, wetlands, hydric/erodible soils, floodplains, steep slopes, wildlife habitat, and shoreline protection.
Full text of law:Saint Mary's Site Development and Resource Protection Standards
Related laws/programs:Forest Conservation Act
Saint Mary's County
Planning and Zoning Department
Governmental Center
PO BOX 653
23115 Leonard Hall Drive
Leonardtown, MD 20650
phone: 301-475-4461
Links:Planning and Zoning homepage

Title:Sediment & Erosion Control Program and Law
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), - Nonpoint Source Program
Other organizations involved: county governments
Quick summary:
The Sediment Control Law of 1970 requires that local governments adopt erosion and sediment control ordinances to control runoff from construction sites. State law exempts only agricultural land management practices and the contstruction of agricultrual facilities (except in Calvert County), construction of single-family homes on lots more than two acres (provided that earth disturbances are less than 1/2 acre), and minor projects of limited volume and area from the requirement to obtain, implement, and maintain an approved erosion and sediment control plan.
Current soil erosion and sediment control measures must meet state standards and specifications that were approved in 1984 (COMAR 26.17.01).
An approved erosion and sediment control plan is required for the following activities:
Land clearing, grading, or earth disturbance involving more than 100 cubic yards or 5,000 square feet of grading.
Exceptions: State and federal projects are exempt from local approval, agricultural projects, or single-family
residence on lots of 2 acres or more provided the earth disturbance is less than 0.5 acres.
State standards with optional local government implementation
Plan approval is from soil conservation district
The State may delegate enforcement authority to local government. Failure to comply with the law may result in the issuance of "stop work" orders, and civil or criminal penalties.
Maryland Department of the Environment
Water and Science Administration
Nonpoint Source Program
1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21230
(410) 537-3543

Title:Shore Erosion Control Program
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) - Shore Erosion Control Program
Quick summary:
The Shore Erosion Control Program was established in 1968 by act of the Maryland's General Assembly for the purpose of addressing shoreline and streambank erosion problems along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The Shore Erosion Control Program provides both technical and financial assistance to landowners in completing both structural and non-structural shore erosion control projects. Non-structural projects are often preferred, but structural projects are used in areas with high rates of erosion.
Full summary:
Non-structural shore erosion control projects are those that use bioengineering to create protective vegetative buffers. In addition to stabilizing streambanks and shorelines, vegetative buffers will create near-shore habitat for aquatic species and waterfowl. Vegetative buffers will also improve water quality by filtering upland runoff and trapping sediments and nutrients. Non-structural shoreline stabilization employs environmentally sound techniques applicable to streams with low water velocities and to tidal shorelines experiencing moderate to low erosion rates.
The Shore Erosion Control Program provides technical assistance, relating to both structural and non-structural shoreline stabilization measures applicable to tidal shorelines and streambanks, to property owners, communities, local governments, businesses and others in need of information.
Technical assistance is provided through site evaluations, problem assessments and recommended solutions. Project planning and implementation by a property owner will require an understanding of alternative methods of protection, costs, maintenance needs, regulatory requirements, contracting and project management. Shore Erosion Control can assist in these areas through the expertise developed and reference materials available.
The owner of any property abutting a body of water in Maryland may file an application requesting assistance in the design, construction, management and financing of a streambank or shoreline erosion control project. Financial assistance for non-structural projects is awarded to the property owner by Shore Erosion Control in the form of short-term loans and matching grants. Agreements detail the requirements and extent of financial assistance, as follows:
75% interest-free loans for projects on private and public lands using
State special funds.
75%-25% matching grants for projects on public lands using Federal
Department of Natural Resources Forest Service
Shore Erosion Control
Tawes State Office Building, E-1
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
phone: 410-260-8531
fax: 410-260-8596
Links:Shore Erosion Control Program homepage

Title:Smart Growth (Executive Order 01.01.1998.04)
Lead agency/organization:Maryland Department of Planning
Other organizations involved:Maryland Department of Natural Resources, (DNR), Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA)
The 1997 General Assembly adopted several specific programs, which together form the Smart Growth initiatives. Collectively, these initiatives aim to direct State resources to revitalize older developed areas, preserve some of Maryland's valuable resource and open space lands, and discourage the continuation of sprawling development into our rural areas.
The Smart Growth legislation allows the State to direct its programs and funding to support locally-designated growth areas and protect rural areas. This landmark legislation's passage is a significant accomplishment which will play a major role in Maryland's efforts to better manage land use and growth.
The centerpiece of this new legislative package is the "Priority Funding Areas" legislation, which limits most State infrastructure funding and economic development, housing and other program monies to Smart Growth Areas which local governments designate for growth. The other bills in the 1997 legislative package also suport locally-identified development areas. They facilitate the reuse of brownfields and provide tax credits to businesses creating jobs in a Priority Funding Area. A new Live Near Your Work pilot program supports this effort by providing cash contributions to workers buying homes in certain older neighborhoods. And, to spur more preservation of undeveloped land, the new Rural Legacy Program provides financial resources for the protection of farm and forest lands and the conservation of these essential rural resources from development.
Related laws/programs:Rural Legacy Program
Links:Smart Growth website

Title:Somerset County laws
Lead agency/organization:Somerset County, - Planning and Zoning Division
Somerset County relies on State and federal laws for the protection of wetlands and waterways, although the County does enforce the Critical Area law.
Related laws/programs:Forest Conservation Act
Somerset County
Planning and Zoning Division
Somerset Office Complex
11916 Somerset Ave.
Princess Anne, MD 21853
phone: (410) 651-1424
fax: (410) 651-2597
Links:Somerset County homepage

Title:Special Area Management Plans (U.S.C. Sec. 1452-1453 (1985 & Supp. 1991))
Lead agency: U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)
Other agencies involved: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), - Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management
Quick summary:
States, local governments, and private groups can play a major role in preparing Special Area Management Plans (SAMPs). SAMPs provide some predictability for wetlands regulation, can be helpful in resolving conservation and development conflicts in areas of rapid growth, and can help control cumulative impacts on wetlands. Funding is available to states for preparation and implementation of SAMPs in coastal zones.
Full Summary:
Coastal Zone Special Area Management Plans
One of the policies of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) is to encourage the preparation of SAMPs. A SAMP is defined in the CZMA as: a comprehensive plan providing for natural resource protection and reasonable economic growth containing a detailed and comprehensive statement of policies, standards, and criteria to guide public and private uses of lands and waters; and mechanisms for timely implementation in the specific geographic areas within the coastal zone.
States have employed SAMPs to adress a wide range of coastal resource management problems, ranging from the protection of historic river corridors from excessive boat traffic to comprehensive management plans for entire estuaries. The 199- reauthorizzation of the CZMA reemphasized the importance of SAMPs by making their preparation and implementation eligible for 100-percent funding through competetive; "coastal zone enhancements grants."
One goal of SAMP devlopment is the incorporation of results into state coastal zone management programs. Enforceable policies developed through a SAMP, once incorporated, can be the basis for state permitting decisions and consistency reviews of federal activities and pemits.
Corps of Engineers Special Area Management Plans
The Corps of Engineers has adopted the SAMP concept and incorporated it into its own polcies. A Corps Regulatory Guidance Letter (issued October 2, 1986, by the Office of the Chief of Engineers) requires that four criteria be met before the Corps will begin a SAMP process:

1. The area should be environmentally sensitive and under strong development pressure.
2. Ideally, there should be strong public involvement throughout the process.
3. There should be a sponsoting local agency to ensure that the paln fully reflects local needs and interest.
4. All parties must be willing at the outset to conclude the process with difinitive regulatory products.
CZM-sponsord SAMPs focus on coastal zones. Corps SAMPs are not restricted to coastal zones. The wetlands addresses depend on the boundayr of the particular SAMP area. Beyond the general Guidance that SAMPs provide for natural resource protection and reasonable economic growth, the SAMP process is undefined. It can potentially address all causes of wetlands loss.
Related laws/programs: Coastal Zone Management Act & Plan
Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management
National Ocenic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Department of Commere
1825 Connecicut Avenue, NW
Room 724 N/OR3
Washington, DC 20235
(202) 606-4135

Title:Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plans
Lead agency/organization: U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), - National Park Service (NPS)
The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act contains provisions that require a state to develop a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) before it is eligible to receive money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Plan must address a variety of issues stated in the law, and then it may use designated money from the Fund for acquisition and development of outdoor recreational resources.
Acquisition and development grants may be used for a wide range of outdoor recreation projects, such as picnic areas, inner city parks, campgrounds, tennis courts, boat launching ramps, bike trails, outdoor swimming pools, and support facilities such as roads, water supply, etc. Facilities must be open to the general public and not limited to special groups. Development of basic rather than elaborate facilities is favored. Fund monies are not available for the operation and maintenance of facilities. Grants are also available to States only for revising and updating existing SCORPs preparation of new plans and for statewide surveys, technical studies, data collection and analysis and other planning purposes which are clearly related to SCORP refinement and improvement.
Full text of law:Click here for full text
Related laws/programs:Land and Water Conservation Fund Act
Recreation Programs
National Park Service
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W., Room 3622
Washington, DC 20240
phone: (202) 565-1200
fax: (202) 565-1130
Links:Land and Water Conservation Fund Grants page

Title:Stormwater Management
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)
In 1982, legislation was passed to manage stormwater runoff to reduce stream channel erosion, pollution, and flooding to avoid adverse impact on land and water resources. Proposed changes to regulations were begun in 1993 and continue through 1999. Regulations are expected to be finalized in July 1999. A new stormwater design manual was released for review in 1998 and should be finalized in 1999.
Any land developed for residential, commercial, industrial, or institutional use requires an approved plan. Threshold
of disturbance is 5000 square feet.
State standards with mandatory local government implementation. Local ordinances under revised regulations shall
be final in July 2000.
Local programs are reviewed at least every three years
Discharges must be treated prior to discharge in water or wetlands. The Department promotes establishment of wetland plantings in conjunction with wet pond facilities. Some indirect protection of wetlands through requirements to maintain streams in pre-development conditions. Treatment is required for one year storm event.
Maryland Department of the Environment
Water and Science Administration
Nonpoint Source Program
1800 Washington Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21230
(410) 537-3543
Links:Stormwater Management Program homepage

Title:Stream ReLeaf
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Other organizations involved:American Forests
Quick summary:
Maryland's Stream ReLeaf project is a pledge to lead the Bay states in reforesting 600 miles of streams and rivers by the year 2010. American Forests has joined as a partner to help publicize the initiative and develop funding from businesses.
The Plan is a product of collaboration by the Stream ReLeaf Coordinating Committee, which includes representatives from state, federal, and local government, nonprofit conservation organizations, citizen's groups and advisory boards, and industry associations.
Full summary:
The Plan lays out a process for developing local, watershed-based plans to establish buffers working through Maryland's Tributary Teams. This process will coordinate with Maryland's Unified Watershed Assessment for the federal Clean Water Action Plan.
The Implementation Plan identifies 9 goals, 21 performance measures, and 122 actions that are needed to improve and track riparian forest buffer restoration and conservation. It includes strategies for restoring and conserving buffers and supporting actions.
Restoration Strategies in the Stream ReLeaf Plan include:
a goal of at least 43 miles/year of buffer restored.
use of Tributary Teams to identify appropriate strategies and priorities for sites.
growing additional native hardwoods at the State Nursery to overcome problems of
insufficient planting stock of native species;
monitoring of survival success and measurement of habitat and water quality goals on
targeted watersheds to determine long-term success.
Conservation Strategies will protect existing buffers by:
using a watershed-based approach to improve buffer protection through coordination of existing regulatory and incentive programs including Forest Conservation Act, Critical Area Law, Rural Legacy, Program Open Space, Conservation Reserve Enhancement
Program and Smart Growth. A pilot watershed project will begin in 1999;
establishing a goal of at least 300 acres per year of buffers under long-term protection:
4200 acres or more by 2010.
Supporting actions in the Plan include:
developing new communications tools such as audio-visual programs, demonstration
sites and workshops, supplementing the brochure, MPT video clip, and stream table
display already developed;
Internet access to current information on Stream ReLeaf;
new recognition programs for outstanding participants developed by 1999.
Related laws/programs:Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Forest Service
Tawes State Office Building E-4
580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland 21401
phone: 410-260-8403
Links:Stream ReLeaf homepage

Title:Surplus Federal Property Transfer (40 U.S.C. Sec. 471-544 (1986 & Supp. 1991))
Lead agency: National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
Quick summary:
Surplus federal property can be "assigned" to he U.S. Department of the Interior, which may then transfer it to state or locaal government at no or low cost.
Full Summary:
Properties transferred to state or local government through the National Park Service must be used for parks and recreation, which can include nature preserves and open space used for such passive activities as birdwatching and nature study. Parcels are typically 20 acres or less. many are subsequently improved through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The National Park Service assists state and local governments in applying for property transfers.
property can be transferred to state or local government through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for wildlife conservation. These properties are primararily used for management of upland species, but some wetlands may be involved.
Recreation Resources Assistance Division
National Park Service
P.O. Box 37127
Washington, DC 20013-7127

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Realty
U.S. Department of Interior
Arlington Square
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240
(703) 358-1713

Title:Swampbuster (The 1985 Farm Bill [Food Security Act] Title XII, Subtitle C - Wetland Conservation)
(16 U.S.C. Sec. 3821-3824 (Supp. 1991))
Lead agency: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Other agencies/organizations involved: (USDA) - Farm Service Agency (FSA)
Quick summary:
By denying federal farm benefits to farmers who drain wetlands, the wetland conservation (Swampbuster) provisions of the 1985 Farm Bill discourages the conversion of wetlands on agricultural lands. States, local governments, and private groups can assist with Swampbuster by educating farmers about its provisions and can supplement it by denying other benefits to Swampbuster violators.
The 1985 Farm Bill (Food Security Act) Title XII, Subtitle C - Wetland Conservation, contains provisions commonly known as "Swampbuster". The US Department of Agriculture is authorized to withhold benefits such as farm loans and federal crop insurance from farmers who convert wetlands for agricultural use (commodities) subsequent to this Act (December 1985). The Act was last re-authorized in 1996.
Under the Swampbuster law, farmers are denied crop subsidies and other agricultural benefits if they:
drain or otherwise convert wetlands for the purpose of (or to have the effect of) making possible the planting
of agricultural commodity crops after November 28, 1990; or
plant commodity crops on wetlands converted after December 23, 1985.
Until the 1990 reauthorization of the Farm Bill (i.e., the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990), conversion alone did not trigger violations; actual planting of a commodity crop was required. The 1990 reauthorization also established graduated penalties (ranging from $750 to $10,000) if the following conditions apply:
the violation is inadvertent,
the producer has not violated Swampbuster more than once in the previous 10 years, and
the producer restores the wetlands according to a federally approved plan.
These graduated penalties also apply retroactively to violations meeting these criteria and occurring prior to enactment of the 1990 Act. The 1990 act expanded lost program benefits to include payments under the Conservation Reserve Program and other programs.
Under Swampbuster, wetlands conversion is allowed if it will cause only a minimal effect on the hydrological and biological value of the wetlands. The NRCS determines whether the conversion will constitute a minimal effect. Drainage of frequently cropped wetlands may be allowed if the producer provides mitigation by restoring a converted wetlands so as to provide equivalent wetlands value. NRCS must approve any restoration plans.
When applying for federal farm program benefits, producers indicate whether they plan to manipulate any wetland areas. If so, the NRCS must make a certified wetland determined/delineation. Producers can appeal this delineation. In the case of a reported Swampbuster violation, NRCS must conduct a site visit to determine whether a violation has actually occured, the extent of the violation, and what options the producer may have to restore the site and avoid the loss of program benefits.
For wetlands farmed prior to December 25, 1985, producers can maintain but not improve upon drainage as it existed at that date.
The USDA Service Center located in each county

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Federal Aid
U. S. Department of the Interior
Arlington Square, Room 322
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Title:Talbot County laws
Lead agency/organization:Talbot County Planning and Zoning Department
Talbot County has established a 100 foot buffer around perennial streams, and a 50 foot buffer around intermittent streams. Development is discouraged in the 100 year floodplain when alternative sites exist.
Full text of law:Talbot County Natural Resource Conservation and Sensitive Areas Protection
Related laws/programs:Forest Conservation Act
Talbot County
Planning and Zoning Department
11 North Washington Street
Easton, MD 21601
phone: (410) 770-8038
fax: (410) 770-8043
Links:Planning and Zoning homepage

Title:Tidal Wetlands Act & Program
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)
Other organizations involved:State Board of Public Works
In 1970, the Maryland General Assembly recognized that many wetlands had been lost or despoiled throughout the State by unregulated activities such as dredging, dumping and filling, and that remaining wetlands were in jeopardy. The assembly established the Tidal Wetlands Act, which restricts construction and development actions in tidal wetlands.
The enactment of the Wetlands Act established a comprehensive plan to restrict and regulate activities conducted in wetlands in order to preserve and protect them. The Act states that these unregulated activities will "affect adversely, if not eliminate entirely, the value of the wetlands as a source of nutrients to finfish, crustacea, and shellfish of significant economic value" and will "destroy the wetlands as a habitat for plants and animals of significant economic value and eliminate or substantially reduce marine commerce, recreation, and aesthetic enjoyment". The Act also declares: "It is the policy of the State, taking into account varying ecological, economic, developmental, recreational, and aesthetic values, to preserve the wetlands and prevent their despoliation and destruction."
The Act mandated the mapping of tidal wetlands and the creation of a regulatory program to protect the State's tidal wetland resources. Maryland developed 2,400 scale tidal wetland boundary maps (1" = 200') which delineate tidal wetlands boundaries and depict vegetation types. In addition, the resource was defined as either state or private tidal wetlands. State wetlands include all the open water and vegetated wetlands below mean high water, and are owned by the State of Maryland. Private wetlands include all tidal wetlands above the mean high water line and are in private ownership.
Tidal wetlands are managed to provide reasonable use while furnishing essential resource protection. Licenses, issued by the State's Board of Public Works based on recommendations from the Water and Science Administration (WSA), are required for projects in State wetlands. The Board of Public Works is comprised of the Governor, the Comptroller of the Treasury, and the State Treasurer. Permits are issued directly by WSA for projects in private wetlands. A permit or license must be obtained before a person fills, dredges, or otherwise alters a tidal wetland. Typical projects include:
Shoreline protection projects including marsh creation, stone revetments, and bulkheads;
Dredging; and
Stormwater Discharges.
Construction of the following projects in tidal wetland areas require authorization from WSA: filling, dredging, bulkheads, revetments, boat ramps, jetties, cable crossings, storm drain systems, groins, breakwaters, vegetative stabilization, and similar structures. Applications are evaluated to insure that appropriate steps are taken to first avoid, then minimize impacts to tidal wetlands. Mitigation is required for unavoidable impacts, with the amount of mitigation based on resources impacted, type of mitigation proposed, and location of the mitigation. In-kind and on-site mitigation is preferred and required wherever appropriate site conditions exist.
Related laws/programs:Tidal Wetlands Act & Program, Nontidal Wetlands Act & Program
Tidal Wetlands Division
1800 Washington Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: (410) 537-8075
Fax (410) 537-8047
Links:MDE Wetlands and Waterways Program homepage

Title:Tributary Strategies
Lead agency/organization: MD Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Maryland's Tributary Teams meet regularly in each of the Bay's ten major tributaries to help implement pollution prevention measures needed to address local water quality problems. These teams are planning to help provide clean water and healthy rivers for future generations. A major focus of their efforts is controlling nutrient pollution from farm fields and horse pastures, wastewater treatment plants, construction and road building activities, and hundreds of thousands of suburban
In support of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, the mission of Maryland's Tributary Teams is to:
Support and promote actions and policies to ensure healthy watersheds with abundant and diverse living resources;
Through education, heighten awareness of each individual's impact on water quality;
Promote implementation of projects to restore and protect living resources and water quality;
Facilitate communication and coordination among governments, landowners, businesses, and all other citizens
toward this common goal.
Related laws/programs:Smart Growth
Program Director
Danielle Lucid,
(410) 260-8724
Other contacts
Links:Tributary strategies web site

Title:Washington County laws
Lead agency/organization:Washington County Planning Commission
Washington County currently relies on State and federal laws to protect wetlands and waterways.
Related laws/programs:Forest Conservation Act
Washington County
Planning Commission
County Administration Building, Room 320
100 West Washington Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740
phone: (301)791-3065
Links:Planning Commission homepage

Title:Water Quality Certification (Section 401 Clean Water Act)
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) - MDE Wetlands & Waterways Program
Quick summary:
Under Section 401, states have the authority to review any federal permit or license that may result in a discharge to wetlands and other waters under state jurisdiction, in order to ensure that the actions would be consistent with the state’s water quality requirements. If a state denies certification, the federal permit or license cannot be issued. States can also qualify certifications by specifying conditions that must be met.
The Department of the Environment is responsible for issuing water quality certification (WQC) for proposed discharges into jurisdictional wetlands and waters of the State of Maryland, pursuant to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The WQC certifies that a proposed Section 404 discharge will not violate the State’s water quality standards which are conatained at COMAR 26.08.02. The WQC must be issued for all US Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit actions and for Corps’ planning and navigation projects that include a Section 404 discharge.
The Department manages and regulates the waters of the State to protect the following beneficial water uses:
Water contact recreation
Fish, other aquatic life, and wildlife
Shellfish harvesting
Public water supply
Agricultural water supply
Industrial water supply
The WQC helps to protect these uses by ensuring that a proposed discharge will not violate the State’s water quality standards.
Generally, application for the WQC is part of the standard joint permit application. However, for proposed Section 404 activities that do not require a State permit, e.g. federal action in tidal areas, the State issues an individual WQC based upon a request from the federal agency.
Full text of law:Click here for full text
Related laws/programs:Section 404, Clean Water Act
Links:MDE'sWetlands & Waterways Program

Title:Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA)
Quick summary:
The Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998 is designed to protect the health of Maryland's citizens and its waterways by establishing both short and long-term strategies for reducing nutrient levels in our rivers and streams. This legislation, which mandates nutrient management on virtually all Maryland farms, will also affect a number of other interests, including the commercial fertilizer industry and poultry feed distributors.
Full summary:
The Act contains many provisions and requirements for farmers, in regards to their use and disposal of nutrients.
Act highlights include:
Nutrient Management Plan Requirement
Applies to all agricultural operations with gross annual incomes in excess of $2,500, or
Livestock operations with more than eight animal units (one animal unit equals 1,000 pounds)
Farmers using commercial fertilizers are required to have nitrogen and phosphorus-based nutrient management plans
developed by December 31, 2001. These plans must be implemented by December 31, 2002.
Farmers applying animal manure or sludge must have a nitrogen-based plan developed by December 31, 2001, and
implemented by December 31, 2002.
Farmers applying sludge or manure are also required to develop a nitrogen and phosphorus-based plan by July 1, 2004. These
plans must be implemented by July 1, 2005.
Nutrient Management Plan Evaluation
The legislation mandates an on-farm evaluation by MDA to assess proper implementation of the nutrient management plan.
All plans are required to be filed with MDA as they are developed or revised.
MDA shall maintain a copy of the plan for three years in a manner that protects the identity of the individual for whom the plan was developed.
Administrative Penalties
Step 1 -- Notification
Step 2 --An administrative penalty not to exceed $250
Subsequent violations incur fines of up to $100 for each occurrence, not to exceed $2000 per farmer or operator per year.
Other Penalties
Retrieval of cost-share grants for projects in violation of the law
Limits on future cost-share assistance
Any and all penalties collected will be paid into the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program.
Maryland Department of Agriculture
50 Harry S Truman Parkway
Annapolis, MD 21401
Links:Act homepage, Citizen's Guide to Water Quality Improvement Act

Title:Water Resources Development Act (33 U.S.C. Sec 2201-2330)
Lead agency/organization: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps)
Other organizations involved: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
Quick summary:
The Water Resources Development Acts include numerous provisions that relate to wetlands protection, primarily in connection with water resources development projects.
These omnibus measures authorized construction or study of hundreds of new water resources development projects, to be undertaken by the Corps of Engineers. In addition, these acts added new restrictions that specifically require wetlands protection. Provisions requiring protection of fish and wildlife habitat may result indirectly in wetlands protection. This act also authorized several environmental restoration projects, some with a goal of significant wetlands restoration.
Since 1986, the act has required that mitigation plans accompany all project proposals unless it can be shown that the project will have negligible effects on fish and wildlife. It also requires that mitigation be undertaken simultaneously with other project activities.
In 1990, the act was ammended to require that the goal of the Corps' water resources development program be "no overall net loss" of wetlands. The act also requires the Corps to develop an action plan to achieve this goal and to identify any new authorities it needs to meet this goal. The action plan must be prepared in consultation with the US EPA, and the FWS.
The 1990 ammendments also authorize the training and certification of wetlands delineators as well as a demonstration program to determine the feasibility of wetlands restoration, enhancement, and creation as a means of contributing to no net loss. Federal and state land-owning agencies and private parties may contribute land to the demonstration areas.
The act also establishes environmental protection as one of the primary missions of the Corps in water resources projects.
Full text of law:Click here for full text
US Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore District
PO Box 1715
Baltimore, MD 31203
Phone: (301) 962-3670

Title:Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act & Program (16 U.S.C. Sec. 1001-1009 (1985 & Supp.
Lead agency/organization: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Quick summary:
Technical and financial assistance is provided in cooperation with local sponsoring organizations, state and other public agencies, to voluntarily plan and install watershed-based projects on private lands.
This Program works through local government sponsors and helps participants solve natural resource and related economic problems on a watershed basis. Eligible organizations include Native American tribes, state or local governmenrs, soil or water conservation districts, flood prevention or control districts, nonprofit water users' associations, and similar organizations that can carry out and maintain improvement projects.
Projects include watershed protection, flood prevention, erosion and sediment control, water supply, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, wetland creation and restoration, and public recreation in watersheds of 250,000 or fewer acres. NRCS provides both technical and financial assistance.
The 1990 Farm Bill (i.e., the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990) amended the watershed protection program to allow cost sharing (federal funding of 50 percent or more) for acquiring perpetual easements on wetlands or floodplains for conservation or flood prevention.
Full text of law:Click here for full text
Natural Resources Conservation Service
339 Busch's Frontage Road, Suite 301
Annapolis, MD 21401
Links:USDA Watersheds and Wetlands Division Programs

Title:Waterway Construction Statute
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), - MDE Wetlands & Waterways Program
Chapter 526 of the Laws of 1933, (legislation based on recommendations of the 1931 Commission), established a permanent State Water Resources Commission. The legislation reflected concern about deficiencies in the policies and programs of the State of Maryland with respect to water resources, including:

Measurement - "The number of gaging stations, the length of the term of such records, and the policy of location of stations have all been characterized by neither consistency nor plan."

Allocation of Water Resources - "The State has no plan either for the conservation or the development of its water resources, no agency for determining or recording rights or for the protection of recorded rights to the use of public waters by regulating diversions from them."

Structures - "No agency exists with the delegated duty of inspecting, supervising, maintaining and operating all dams in so far as it is necessary to safeguard life and property."

The Water Resources Commission recognized that a manmade change to a stream or body of water in Maryland could diminish its course, current or cross-section. Today, waterway construction regulations assure that activities in a waterway or its floodplain, an area defined as waters of the State, do not create flooding on upstream or downstream property, maintain fish habitat and migration, and protect waterways from erosion. Authorization is required for construction or repair of the following projects in a waterway or a 100-year floodplain:
Dams and reservoirs;
Bridges and culverts;
Excavation, filling or construction;
Changing the course, current or cross-section of any stream;
Temporary construction (e.g. utility lines); or
Any other similar project.
Construction activities in waters of the State are guided by both statute and regulation. Title 5, Subtitle 5 of the Environment Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, establishes an administrative procedure that promotes public safety and welfare. This administrative procedure is further described in the regulations (COMAR) 26.17.04. These regulations govern the construction, reconstruction, repair, or alteration of a dam, reservoir, or waterway obstruction or any change of the course, current, or cross section of a stream or water body within the State, including changes to the 100-year frequency floodplain of free flowing waters.
The requirements of both statute and regulation are combined in the permit application review process. During the evaluation of an application, WS​​A may require an applicant to address issues relating to:
Safety, operation and maintenance of the structure;
Ability of all on-site construction to withstand the impacts of the 100-year flood event;
Flooding on adjacent properties;
Erosion of the construction site or stream bank; and
Environmental effects, such as the project's impacts on nontidal wetlands, existing in-stream fisheries, wildlife
habitat, or threatened or endangered species.
The issuance of a permit at the conclusion of the permit application review process indicates that the project adequately preserves the public safety, promotes the general public welfare, and protects instream resources.

Title:Waterways (Federal)
Lead agency/organization: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps)
The Corps operates Environmental, Navigation, Recreation, and Regulatory/Permitting programs, all affecting US waterways.
Links:US Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Program page

Title:Wetland Restoration Initiative
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)
During the period of explosive growth and intensive land use since the 1940s, Maryland lost approximately 60,000 acres of wetlands. In May of 1997, Maryland announced an initiative to restore, create or enhance 60,000 acres of wetlands. Participation in the wetlands restoration initiative is strictly voluntary.
A Wetlands Restoration Steering Committee has been appointed and is in the process of developing a strategy for the accomplishment of the management objective. The Maryland restoration program is being coordinated with the Chesapeake Bay Program wetland restoration initiative. An average annual increase of 1000 acres of non-tidal wetlands is currently occuring in Maryland. The Wetlands Restoration Steering Committee has stated that the restoration goal should be completed by 2035.
Links: MDE's; Restoration Initiative Page, Environmental Indicators - Wetlands Restoration, Wetlands & Waterways Restoration

Title:Wetlands Program (Federal)
Lead agency/organization: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), - Office of Wetlands, Oceans, & Watersheds
The mission of the program is to encourage and enable others to act effectively in
protecting and restoring the nation's wetlands and associated ecosystems, including shallow open
waters and free-flowing streams. In doing so, the program engages in two principal categories of
activities -- establishing national standards and assisting others to meet them. EPA serves specifically:
1) as a partner, providing support for both regulatory and non-regulatory wetlands
protection efforts;
2) as a promoter and distributor of sound wetlands science as the technical basis for
effective wetlands decision making;
3) in an advisory capacity for State and Tribal wetlands programs and for Clean Water
Act Section 404 permit decisions;
4)as the developer of national wetlands standards and policies; and
5) as a regulator to back up our State and Local partners and ensure that national
standards are lawfully applied.
Office of Wetlands, Oceans, & Watersheds
Wetlands Division
Mail Code 4502F
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20460
Phone: (202) 260-1917
Links:Wetlands Program website

Title:Wetlands Reserve Program (16 U.S.C. Sec. 3838f (Supp. 1991))
Lead agency: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Other agencies involved: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), -Farm Service Agency (FSA)
Quick summary:
WRP is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to restore and enhance wetlands on their property. States, local governments, and private groups can help publicize this program, which provides substantial incentives to landowners, and can complement the program by providing additional incentives.
The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial support to help landowners. The WRP is a voluntary program offered nationwide that offers payment, based on the agricultural value of the land, for wetlands that have previously been drained and converted to agricultural uses or timber production.
In all cases, the landowner retains ownership and responsibility for the land, including any property taxes based on its re-assessed value as wetland or non-agricultural land. The landowner controls access to the land; the right to hunt, fish, trap, and pursue other appropriate recreational uses; and may sell or lease land enrolled in WRP. The landowner may request uses which are compatible with protecting and restoring the wetland and associated upland habitat. For example, NRCS may approve haying, grazing, or harvesting of timber under certain conditions depending on amount, method, timing, and duration. Landowners may make compatible use requests throughout the life of the easement or agreement.
To offer a permanent or 30-year easement, you must have owned the land for at least one year prior to enrollment, with limited exceptions. To participate in a 10-year restoration cost-share agreement, you need only show evidence of ownership.
To be eligible for WRP, land must be restorable and be suitable for wildlife benefits. This includes:
Wetlands cleared and/or drained for farming, pasture, or timber production.
Lands adjacent to restorable wetlands that contribute significantly to wetland functions and values.
Previously restored wetlands that need long-term protection.
Upland areas needed to provide an adequate ecological buffer or otherwise contribute to defining a manageable
Drained wooded wetlands where hydrology will be fully restored.
Existing or restorable riparian habitat corridors that connect protected wetlands.
Lands substantially altered by flooding where there is a likelihood of successful wetland restoration at a reasonable
Ineligible Land
Wetlands converted after December 23, 1985.
Certain Conservation Reserve Program contract lands where trees have been successfully established.
Federal lands.
Lands where conditions make restoration impossible.
WRP offers three options to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands and associated uplands: permanent easements, 30-year easements, or 10-year restoration cost-share agreements.
Full text of law:Click here for full text
Related laws/programs:Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
USDA Service Centers located in each county
Wetland Reserve Program Coordinator
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
339 Busch's Frontage Rd., Suite 301
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 757-0861
Links:Wetlands Reserve Program homepage

Title:Wicomico County laws
Lead agency/organization:Wicomico County Department of Planning, Zoning. and Community Development
Wicomico County requires a 50 foot buffer around all perennial and intermittent streams. Additionally, development in the 100 year floodplain is prohibited when an alternative site on a parcel exists.
Related laws/programs:Critical Area Law, Forest Conservation Act
Wicomico County
Department of Planning, Zoning, and Community Development
Room 203
Government Office Building
North Division Street and Route 50
P.O. Box 870
Salisbury, MD 21803-0870
phone: (410) 548-4860
fax: (410) 548-4955
Links:Department homepage

Title:Wild and Scenic River Act & Designation (16 U.S.C Sections 1271-1287)
Lead agency: National Parks Service (NPS)
Other agencies involved: Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
States can initiate designation of rivers as wild and scenic, which results in federal consultation, coordination, and protection, particularly from impacts of water resources development projects. Technical assistance is also available for conservation and management of all rivers. Wetlands bordering rivers can benefit from this protection and management.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act does not generally lock up a river like a wilderness designation. The idea is not to halt development and use of a river; instead, the goal is to preserve the character of a river. Uses compatible with the management goals of a particular river are allowed; change is expected to happen. Development not damaging to the outstanding resources of a designated river, or curtailing its free flow, are usually allowed. The term "living landscape" has been frequently applied to wild and scenic rivers. Of course, each river designation is different, and each management plan is unique
Full text of law:Click here for full text
Links:Wild and Scenic Rivers website

Title:Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program
Lead agency/organization: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Quick summary:
The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for people who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat primarily on private lands. It provides both technical assistance and cost-share payments to help establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat.
Full summary:
Participants who own or control land agree to prepare and implement a wildlife habitat development plan. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers participants technical and
financial assistance for the establishment of wildlife habitat development practices. In addition, if the landowner agrees,
cooperating State wildlife agencies and nonprofit or private organizations may provide expertise or additional funding to help
complete a project.
NRCS helps participants prepare a wildlife habitat development plan in consultation with the local conservation district. The plan describes the landowner's goals for improving wildlife habitat, includes a list of practices and a schedule for installing them, and details the steps necessary to maintain the habitat for the life of the agreement. This plan may or may not be part of a larger conservation plan that addresses other resource needs such as water quality and soil erosion.
USDA and the participant enter into a cost-share agreement for wildlife habitat development. This agreement generally lasts from 5 to 10 years from the date the agreement is signed. Under the agreement:
The landowner agrees to install and maintain the WHIP practices and allow NRCS or its agent access to monitor the
effectiveness of the practices.
USDA agrees to provide technical assistance and pay up to 75 percent of the cost of installing the wildlife habitat
Cost-share payments may be used to establish new practices or replace practices that fail for reasons beyond the landowner's control. Eligible participants include those who own or have control of the land under consideration. All lands are eligible for WHIP, except:
Federal land;
Land currently enrolled in the Water Bank Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, or
other similar programs;
Land subject to an Emergency Watershed Protection Program floodplain easement; and
Land where USDA determines that impacts from onsite or offsite conditions make the success of habitat improvement
WHIP funds cannot be used for mitigation or on land designated as converted wetland.
WHIP is currently budgeted for $50 million total through the year 2002. WHIP funds are distributed to States based on State wildlife habitat priorities, which may include wildlife habitat areas, targeted species and their habitats, and specific practices. WHIP may be implemented in cooperation with other Federal, State, or local agencies; conservation districts; or private conservation groups. State priorities are developed through a locally led process that identifies wildlife resource needs and finalized in consultation with the State Technical Committee.
Related laws/programs:Forestry Incentives Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program
USDA Service Center located in each county

NRCS Annapolis Service Center
2662 Riva Road
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 571-6757
Links:WHIP homepage

Title:Woodland Incentive Program (WIP)
Lead agency/organization: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Forest Service
The purpose of the Program is to provide cost sharing assistance for tree planting, site preparation and timber stand improvement practices. The program pays up to 50 % of eligible practices and is available to owners of at least 10 forest acres but not more than 500 acres that, when appropriate, has the potential to be harvested for products including logs, timbers, pulpwood, firewood, woodchips, poles, piles, posts and other primary forest products, has not been subject to federal cost-share assistance in any of the 5 years preceding application for the same practice and has not received Woodland Incentive Program assistance in any of the 15 years preceding application for the same practice.
Eligible landowners can apply for specific practices through their local forester. If approved, landowners complete the practices and pay for the goods and/or services. The local forester will then inspect the practice to ensure proper implementation. Upon approval by the forester, copies of the invoices and checks used to pay the invoices are submitted to the forester for processing. The landowner will then receive a reimbursement check for up to 50% of their costs. Eligible practices include: thinning, pruning, prescribed burning, crop tree release, site preparation for natural or artificial reforestation, herbicide treatments and planting of seedlings.
Related laws/programs:Forest Stewardship Program/ Stewardship Incentive Program
Maryland DNR Forest Service
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
(410) 260-8531
Links:WIP homepage

Title:Worcester County laws
Lead agency/organization:Worcester County, - Department of Development Review and Permitting
Worcester County currently relies on State and federal laws to protect wetlands and waterways. However, the County is currently updating its environmental resource policies.
Related laws/programs:Critical Area Law, Forest Conservation Act
Worcester County
Department of Development Review and Permitting
Room 116 Court House
One West Market Street
Snow Hill, MD 21863
phone: (410) 632-1200
fax: (410) 632-3008
Links:Worcester County homepage​​​​​​​​​​​

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