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A wetland is simply an area of land that is wet during the growing season. All true wetlands have three characteristics: typical wetland plants, wetland soils, and evidence that water is or can be at or near the surface.
There are many different kinds of wetlands in Delaware, from coastal salt marshes, to our unique Bald Cypress swamps, to seasonal forested ponds.
Though nearly half of Delaware’s original wetlands have been lost, wetlands make up nearly 25 percent of land in Delaware. The vast majority of our wetlands are privately owned. Only 20 percent are owned by the state or federal governments. Protecting our remaining wetlands is a joint effort among government agencies, private land-owners and the public at large.
Management, regulation and restoration of wetlands are important roles of nearly all parts of DNREC, but the Division of Water Resources Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section and the Division of Watershed Stewardship Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program help lead the way.
Because we all share in the responsibility for managing and protecting the wetlands that do so much for us, it is important to know as much as we can about these important lands. To that end, DNREC holds a biennial wetlands conference. The 2018 Wetlands Conference offered two days of exploration into the latest wetland research, innovations to outreach and education and conservation programs in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Wetlands play a vital role in Delaware, but are being lost to development, storms and sea-level rise.
Getting to Know Wetlands
Wetlands can be identified in many different ways and each area is important for its own reasons.
Other wetland educational resources:
Use the Delaware Wetland Plant Field Guide to help identify what types of wetlands, and wetland plants, you are looking at
Watch the multi-part DNREC YouTube series Wetlands 101
Follow the Delaware Wetlands Blog and the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) blog
Learn about the status of Delaware wetlands and trends in wetland health
Explore wetland-related resources for educators
There’s much you can do to help protect wetlands, both on your property and around the rest of the state.
Study the Delaware Wetland Health Reports, which examine the health of wetland areas in each Delaware watershed
Get involved in local land use decisions to help protect wetlands using the wetlands Guidebook for Public Participation
Join your local Tributary Action Team
Help out at the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR)
Sign up for the Delaware Wetlands Newsletter
Property owners of lands that include wetlands can be among the most important stewards of Delaware wetland resources. DNREC offers a variety of assistance and guidance — and regulations — to help landowners care for, restore and manage their wetlands. First, are you the proud owner of wetlands? You can use the index of maps of state-regulated wetlands to find out.
Resources for landowners:
Learn about freshwater wetlands and view wetland maps with the Delaware Freshwater Wetland Toolbox
Use the Discovering Wetlands guide to identify and learn about wetlands you may have in your back yard
Take advantage of the Delaware Landowner Incentive Program to find funding and assistance
Learn how to stabilize shorelines by creating living shorelines rather than bulkheads
See how wetland and channel restoration can work on your lands
Use the assistance of the Delaware Phragmites Control Cost-Share Program to restore wetlands that have been taken over by invasive phragmites
Find out which laws and regulations might apply
For wetland health assessments and public engagements, contact the Watershed Assessment and Management Program: 302-739-9939
For information about wetlands permits and wetland delineation, contact the Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section: 302-739-9943
For education and research about wetlands as part of estuarine systems, contact the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve: 302-739-6377
For fish and wildlife-related wetland education, contact the Delaware Aquatic Resources Education Center: 302-735-8652