Wetlands Protection


Executive Order 11990: Protection of Wetlands requires Federal activities to avoid adverse impacts to wetlands where practicable. As primary screening, HUD or grantees must verify whether the project is located within wetlands identified on the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) or else consult directly with the Department of Interior- Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) staff. If FWS staff is unavailable, HUD or grantees are to consult with the USDA/NRCS National Soils Survey or the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (ACE). Consult a HUD Environmental Officer for details.

HUD Guidance

Does an exception apply? HUD's regulation on floodplains and wetlands was amended in November 2013 to include the following exceptions that would exclude a project from wetlands review: 55.12(a)(3), 55.12(a)(4), 55.12(c)(3), 55.12(c)(7), and 55.12(c)(10).

Does this project involve new construction as defined in Executive Order 11990, expansion of a building’s footprint, or ground disturbance? The term "new construction" shall include draining, dredging, channelizing, filling, diking, impounding, and related activities and any structures or facilities begun or authorized after the effective date of the Order.

If so, will the new construction or other ground disturbance impact an on- or off-site wetland? The term "wetlands" means those areas that are inundated by surface or ground water with a frequency sufficient to support, and under normal circumstances does or would support, a prevalence of vegetative or aquatic life that requires saturated or seasonally saturated soil conditions for growth and reproduction. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas such as sloughs, potholes, wet meadows, river overflows, mud flats, and natural ponds.

If so, an 8-Step Process must be completed to determine that there are no practicable alternatives to wetlands development.

Compliance and Documentation

The environmental review record should contain one of the following:

  • Documentation supporting the determination that an exception at 55.12(a)(3), 55.12(a)(4), 55.12(c)(3), 55.12(c)(7), or 55.12(c)(10) applies.
  • Documentation supporting the determination that the project does not involve new construction (as defined in Executive Order 11990), expansion of a building’s footprint, or ground disturbance.
  • A map or other relevant documentation supporting the determination that the project does not impact an on- or off-site wetland.
  • A completed 8-Step Process, including a map and the early and final public notices.

View Wetlands Protection - Worksheet.

View Wetlands - Partner Worksheet.

Executive Order and Regulations

Executive Order 11990: Protection of Wetlands
24 CFR Part 55 - Floodplain Management and Protection of Wetlands
78 FR 68719 - Floodplain Management and Protection of Wetlands: On 11/15/2013, HUD published a new rule on the regulations governing the protection of wetlands and floodplains. With respect to wetlands, the rule codifies existing procedures for Executive Order 11990, Protection of Wetlands. 24 CFR Part 55 previously did not cover wetlands protection.