US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) (Norfolk District Office)
USACE is responsible for protecting tidal wetlands, mudflats, river bottoms, coastal shorelines, and non-tidal wetlands near tidal waters. Nearly all regulatory decisions on wetlands in Virginia are made out of the Norfolk District Office (although the USACE has field staff throughout the state).
Regulatory Branch and Permits
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
US Army Corps of Engineers: Norfolk District
803 Front Street
Norfolk, Va 23510-1096
DEQ regulates the water quality impacts of wetlands disturbance for all wetlands, tidal and non-tidal. To review the DEQ regulatory programs, go to
DEQ has regional offices that divide up coverage of the state. To find the DEQ office nearest your home or the wetlands you have questions about, go to the website for DEQ Regional Offices
Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC)
VMRC is mainly concerned with the habitat impacts of disturbing tidal wetlands and mudflats. The VMRC authority on tidal wetlands is passed down to most localities in the tidal areas of Virginia. Local Government wetlands boards administer the tidal wetlands permitting in those localities.
Virginia Marine Resources Commission
2600 Washington Avenue
Newport News, VA 23607-0756
Most localities in the tidal region of Virginia (east of Interstate 95) have a wetlands board, comprised of citizen members, to review any wetlands-disturbing activity. The wetlands board staff in each city or county can help determine if you need a permit.
A current list of wetlands board contacts is maintained by the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. The contacts on this website are the best sources of information on any proposed changes you may want to make to your property.
Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance
In addition to wetlands, the area of your property that is 100 feet landward of the edge closest to shore of any tidal wetland, is 100 feet landward of mean high tide, is 100 feet from a nontidal wetland connected to a tidal wetland by surface flow, or is 100 feet from the bank of a stream or other perennial water body is critical to the water quality and habitat of the water. It is also protected under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and any land disturbance within this 100 foot zone (shoreline buffer) may need regulatory approval. The state agency responsible for overseeing this law on shoreline buffers is the DCR Division of Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance. There are great resources on the DCR website.
The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act is administered locally and for further information you should contact your city, town, or county's planning department. To find your local CBPA contact, go to the DCR website.
Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS)
The VIMS Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM) advises the state regulatory agencies about wetlands and other shoreline management issues. It is the best source of information on wetlands, coastal habitat, and a wide range of natural resource management topics.
State and federal agencies provide information on the conservation and restoration of wetlands:
Virginia DEQ information
LandOwner Resources and Voluntary Restoration
USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Service
Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences
Natural Shoreline Erosion control
In addition, a range of non-profit organizations have information and resources on backyard wetlands.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Chesapeake Bay Program
Wetlands and the Chesapeake Bay
Center for Watershed Protection Wetlands
Save the Bay (Narragansett Bay, RI)
Series of Articles on Wetlands Protection May require free registration to download
Excellent guide for "Backyards on the Bay" and other lawn and garden ideas Backyards on the Bay
Lafayette Wetlands Partnership
Want to Adopt a Wetland? These folks know how.