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Water: Outreach & Communication

What is a State Wetland Conservation Plan?

A tool that States, Territories, and Tribes are using to protect wetlands is the State Wetland Conservation Plan (SWCP). A State Wetland Conservation Plan is not meant to create a new level of bureaucracy. Instead, it improves government and private sector effectiveness and efficiency by identifying gaps in wetland protection programs and finding opportunities to make wetlands programs work even better.

State Wetland Conservation Plan are strategies for States to achieve no net loss and other wetland management goals by integrating both regulatory and nonregulatory approaches to protecting wetlands.


A large number of land- and water-based activities impact wetlands. These activities are not addressed by any single Federal, State or local agency program. While many public and private programs and activities protect wetlands, these programs are often limited in scope and not well coordinated. Neither do these programs address all of the problems affecting wetlands.

States, Territories, and Tribes are well positioned between Federal and local government to take the lead in integrating and expanding wetland protection and management programs. They are experienced in managing Federally mandated environmental programs under the Clean Water Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act. They are uniquely equipped to help resolve local and regional conflicts and identify the local economic and geographic factors that may influence wetlands protection.

What are States doing?

  • Texas' SWCP will focus upon non-regulatory and voluntary approaches to wetland protection to complement its regulatory program. The plan will encourage development of economic incentives for private landowners to protect wetlands and educational outreach for State and local officials.
  • Tennessee's plan focuses on a strategy to collect wetland information for outreach and education to private owners of wetlands as well as to regional and local decision-makers. Current implementation efforts include identification of critical functions of major wetland types, priority sites for acquisition and/or restoration, as well as maintenance and restoration of natural floodplain hydrology through digitization and use of remote sensing.
  • Maine's SWCP will focus on ways to establish better coordination between State and Federal regulatory programs, as well as new non -regulatory mechanisms to foster voluntary stewardship. In addition, the State expects to use an ecosystem framework to guide the prioritization of wetlands for comprehensive protection, and review and improve compensatory mitigation banking policies.


  • See the Statewide Wetlands Strategies guidebook, which is available from Island Press (1-800-828-1302).
  • Ask for copies of the SWCP brochure "Why Develop a State Wetland Conservation Plan?" from the EPA Wetlands Information Hotline (contractor operated).

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