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.  Learn more in our Homeowner’s Guide. 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

To Reduce Pollution

  • Improve drainage on your property to reduce rainwater runoff into your waterway or wetland (low impact development, rain gardens, etc.)  Learn more in our Homeowner's Guide.
  • Landscape your yard to minimize rainwater runoff. Learn more in our Homeowner's Guide.  
  • 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.


Encourage your neighbors to protect and conserve wetlands, too!