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Are privately owned freshwater wetlands in California protected by any laws/regulations from development?

Cypress, CA |

The big money land owners want to develope the land zoned for open space, if the three existing lakes are coded PUBHx on Wetland Mapper, there must be some laws or regulations that offer some kind of protection from developing freshwater Wetlands.

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Attorney answers 3


Usually, all wetlands are protected by federal law, administered by the Army Corps of Engineers, which prevents filling or dredging for development without a permit. There may also be state laws and permits required as well (as there are in NYS). It doesn't matter whether the land is publicly or privately owned. Sometimes development is allowed, but usually there is a requirement that you replace the wetlands there or at another site with a larger area of wetlands, so there is "no net loss" of wetlands.

The laws are stronger in this regard than you might think, and many a "big money guy" who can buy off politicians has found you can't buy off the Army Corps of Engineers or the EPA. Also, there is a very strict scientific test for what a wetland is, and the ACOE gets to make the call with a proposed boundary delineation of what the "waters of the US" are.

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Great to know the big money owners won't be able to buy off the Army Corps of Engineers or the EPA, not like all city councils, mayor, city manager, city attorney, even newspapers. What a relief! Thank you so much!


Yes, there are federal regulations relating to wetlands. Here's a link to the EPA website that talks about it.

Any rezoning or development proposal will be subject to CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act), and the impact on wetlands would certainly be identified as a potential adverse impact on the environment. It's too complex to discuss in a response on a site like this, and also depends on a lot of specific facts, but you might want to contact the city or county planning folks that has jurisdiction over any development and see what they have to say about any rezoning that the developer might be pursuing. It's also a public process that you can participate in (i.e. comment on environmental issues, proposals to rezone the land, etc..). If you are concerned I would encourage you to get involved...

THESE COMMENTS MUST NOT BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. Comments made on websites such as are provided for information purposes only. The only way to determine how the law may apply to your particular situation is to consult with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.



Yes! Many citizens got involved, we just defeated 70.2/29.8 the Measure to rezone the land from open space, the big money spent $600K on, lol. Lots of work ahead to roll back a bait & switch Measure passed last year, that senior housing turned into a 129-truck bay distribution center project.


I agree with the previous answers and there will be Federal, State , and local provisions that will need to be address by the developer in the permitting process. There usually is also a public comment period and your local authorities can help you find out what is proposed. In addition there are a great many environmental groups that may be interested.
Good Luck

Please be sure to indicate the best answer. If this answer was helpful, please mark as helpful below. Only. If and until you and I sign an Agreement for Legal Services, I am not your attorney. These answers are provided for informational and/or novelty purposes



Our local authority - our city has no Planning Commission, everyone there forgot they are suppose to work for the city residents, not just the big money land owners. Thank you so much!

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