Wetlands provide critical fish and wildlife habitat, water quality protection, flood control, groundwater recharge and recreation benefits. They have been declining in many states, however, because pollutant discharges and development activities often go unmanaged and lead to wetlands being drained or filled. In an effort to reduce the loss of wetlands, state legislatures have been considering several options designed to restore, enhance or create new ones. These options include 1) mitigation, 2) water quality standards, 3) state permits and 4) financial incentives.
NCSL has tracked state legislation aimed at restoring and protecting wetlands nationwide. A past special project provided technical assistance in policy development among the 10 states that comprise the Mississippi River Basin stretching from Minnesota to Louisiana. NCSL is grateful to the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis for providing funding support of that project. NCSL has also worked with partner organizations in developing strategies to rebuild the fragile wetland ecosystem of the Gulf Coast. Much of our work on wetlands issues is done in collaboration with the Association of State Wetland Managers, which has provided NCSL with valuable policy and technical assistance.