Wetlands Registry for Landowners
Why Restore/Enhance Wetlands?
Wetland restoration efforts have increased substantially during the last decade, largely resulting from of our country's "no net loss" policy, and section 404 of the Clean Water Act requiring the mitigation of wetlands disturbed during human activities. Wetlands are among the most diverse and important ecosystems on Earth, providing many vital functions to both humans and nature. Wetlands not only provide excellent habitat for wildlife, but also help control erosion and flooding, remove pollutants from water, and recharge groundwater resources. Once considered wastelands, wetlands were often drained in order to make them more productive. In fact, since the mid-1800's, more than half of the original wetland resources in the United States have been drained. Over the past decade the importance of wetlands has become better understood, resulting in a more concerted restoration and conservation effort.
What is Oklahoma's Wetland Registry?
Oklahoma's wetland registry functions as a "clearinghouse", connecting interested property owners with those who desire to restore wetlands. The registry works by providing a voluntary listing of public and private lands available for wetland restoration, queried by county and dominant wetland type. In this way landowners are able to advertise their land as restorable, and organizations can find a potential site to meet their restoration needs. This registry is one way in which the Oklahoma Conservation Commission meets the goals set forth in Oklahoma's Comprehensive Wetlands Conservation Plan, which was developed to help identify, understand, and manage Oklahoma's wetland resources.
How does Oklahoma's Wetland Registry work?
Landowners voluntarily offer to allow wetland restoration to occur on their land, based on their property and conservation goals. Those seeking to complete restoration are responsible all costs associated with the restoration effort. To subscribe, simply fill out the voluntary registration on-line and submit the information. The only information to be posted will be an assigned identification number, the area (county and watershed), acreage, and habitat type. Parties seeking to find restorable land can search the registry database to find out information about the available sites.
- Property owners incur no cost for restoration/enhancement
- Property ownership remains in the hands of the original landowner
- Project design and success is the responsibility of the applicant; property owners simple provide the site
- Registration does not require the owner to create/restore wetlands; the landowner can withdraw land from the registry at any time
- Landowner does not give up the right to control access to the site unless specifically agreed upon by the property owner and the applicant (US Army Corps of Engineers will need to inspect site)
- Management agreements may need to be made on restored wetlands
- Conservation easements that meet Federal tax code requirements may be treated as a charitable gift and therefore deducted from income tax (Consult with your local tax advisor)
Benefits to Landowners
There are a number of benefits to landowners who allow restoration to be completed on their property.
- Wetlands help maintain valuable fish and wildlife resources
- Outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching allowed
- Flood and erosion control on property near river bottoms
Who should use it?
Using the registry is not limited to those parties seeking to mitigate the loss of wetlands. Anyone is able to use the registry as a means of finding suitable wetland restoration sites in Oklahoma.
- Local conservation groups
- Landowners who desire to improve wildlife habitat
- Developers who need mitigation wetlands
Wetlands Working Group