Wetlands Conservation Begins at Home

Like most Virginians, you probably live in a watershed that has either fresh or saltwater wetlands.   But we are losing our wetlands as people move farther and farther from urban centers and nearer our shorelines and wet forests, where the wetlands are.

This is putting increasing pressure for wetlands to be used for housing, roads and commercial development. Fortunately, though, many Virginians who want to live in a more natural environment also want to protect it. In a poll conducted by The Trust for Public Lands, The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and The Nature Conservancy in 2001, "89% of Virginia voters felt that preserving and protecting the state's open space resources should be an important state priority." (Source: 2002 Virginia Outdoors Plan)

When wetlands are destroyed and degraded by development projects and pollution, we lose – we lose the free services that these wetlands provide. 

Wetlands control flooding by soaking up over a million gallons of water per acre.

Wetlands take the waste we send into them and convert it to food for fish and shellfish – without wetlands our sport and commercial fisheries would collapse. 

Wetlands take nutrient pollution out of our water, and without them we’d have to spend many millions of dollars to do it in treatment plants.

Wetlands are home to hundreds of species of birds – birds that tourists spend many millions of dollars a year in Virginia to see.

That is why many citizens want to take an active role in protecting and conserving wetlands in Virginia. Those who have waterfront property or land near wetlands can do so directly by becoming good stewards of their backyard wetland habitats. And everyone can reduce the pollution that runs off our yards and streets into our wetlands.


To Care for Your Shoreline (Tidal Wetlands)

Cultivate your backyard wetlands

Learn to recognize your wetlands plants and animals

Consider natural methods for controlling shoreline erosion

Choose living shorelines over rip rap revetments and rip rap over bulkheads

Think small when planning piers, docks and boathouses to reduce impacts to wetlands and shallow water habitat.

Use shoreline development guidance from the Center for Coastal Resources Management


When Boating

Keep your wake to a minimum near shorelines

Dispose of trash and waste properly


When Planning Home Improvements

Become familiar with laws and regulations affecting wetlands 

Become familiar with your local government’s land use, and wetlands regulations programs 

Obtain necessary permits before conducting any wetlands disturbing activity


To Reduce Pollution

Improve drainage on your property to reduce rainwater runoff into your waterway or wetland (low impact development, rain gardens, etc.) 

Landscape your yard to minimize rainwater runoff

Maintain your septic system carefully

Use indigenous plants in your landscape plan to reduce watering and fertilizing needs

Use natural methods of insect and disease control to minimize the use of pesticides

Dispose of paint, oil, solvents and other toxic wastes properly

Don’t use exotic plants in fish or lilly ponds near waterways – they’ll wash in and pollute