The State of Maryland seeks to preserve and prevent unnecessary disturbance to the wetlands. An individual or organization who intends to dredge or fill tidal wetlands must first obtain a state tidal Wetlands License. Before a license is issued, the state tidal wetlands law requires consideration of "the varying ecological, economic, developmental, recreational, and aesthetic values" the project presents.
The Board of Public Works authorizes tidal Wetlands Licenses. In some cases, the Board allows the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to directly issue a license. In other cases, MDE reviews the application and makes a recommendation to the Board as to whether a license should be issued. In those latter cases, the Board's Wetlands Administrator receives MDE's recommendation, makes his own independent review, and then submits a recommendation to the Board of Public Works. The Board votes to grant or deny the license application at one of its open meetings.
Activities Requiring Tidal Wetlands License
A Wetlands License is required before you dredge, fill, or alter state tidal wetlands. This includes horizontal directional drilling.
Examples of activities for which you need a license are:
- Beach nourishment
- Boat ramps
- Dredge or basin excavation
- Horizontal directional drilling (HDD)
- Jetties or some groins
- Marsh creation
- Mooring piles
- Piers and boat lifts
- Stone breakwaters
- Stone revetments
- Utility lines, pipes, and conduits
A General License is authorized for activities that are "minimally disruptive." These activities are listed at COMAR 23.02.04.05A
. The Maryland Department of the Environment issues general licenses directly to the applicant.
An Individual License is required if a project involves construction or activity that does not fit into the specific general license categories. The Board of Public Works itself issues individual licenses for projects that do not qualify for a general license. MDE gives the application the initial review, prepares a report and recommendation, and forwards the report to the Board's Wetlands Administrator who, upon review, concurs with it or prepares his own recommendation. Then, the Wetlands Administrator submits the entire record to the Board of Public Works for consideration at an open meeting.
An Emergency License may be issued on an emergency basis if the Wetlands Administrator and MDE agree that an emergency condition or undue hardship necessitates immediate action. However, after an emergency license is issued, the Board will review the matter at an open meeting and determine whether to ratify, modify, or revoke, the license.
Applicants for tidal Wetlands Licenses - whether applying for General, Individual, or Emergency Licenses - must fill out the Joint Federal/State Application for the Alteration of Any Tidal Wetland in Maryland and submit it to MDE. See MDE's Web site for application information
Wetlands license fees were eliminated on June 28, 2021 with implementation of updated BPW tidal wetlands regulations. But note: compensation or mitigation fees may still be assessed on a particular license for some impacts to State tidal wetlands.
US Army Corps of Engineers