Defining a Wetland


Wetlands are unique ecosystems that have naturally saturated soils and offer a variety of environmental and human services.  Wetlands are sensitive ecological systems and defined by distinctive hydrological, vegetative, and soil characteristics.  Although water may not always be visible within wetlands, the frequent presence of water above or below ground is an essential feature that allows wetlands to support diverse aquatic and terrestrial life. 


The Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), one of the most significant environmental statutes in the United States, defines a wetland within the state of Michigan as “land characterized by the presence of water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances does support, wetland vegetation or aquatic life, and is commonly referred to as a bog, swamp, or marsh.”  This legal definition of wetlands does not change from public to private ownership of property.

Source: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality