New England Field Office
Conserving the Nature of New England



Federal Activities
Section 404 Wetland Permits

Section 404 of the Clean Water Act regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has regulatory authority over activities that propose to impact these resources. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviews proposed activities and provides comments on fish and wildlife resources and on ways to avoid or minimize impacts. In addition, the Service helps ensure that any impacts to our trust resources that do occur are adequately compensated. The New England Field Office follows the Service’s Mitigation Policy to assess the adequacy of mitigation alternatives.

Image Wetland threatened by development. USFWS photo

The New England states, including Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, along with the Service, the Corps, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Marines Fisheries Service, have developed a joint processing system that streamlines the permitting process for projects that are considered to have only minimal impacts. Projects that exceed the impact thresholds of the State Programmatic General Permits (SPGPs) are not eligible for review under the streamlined process and are reviewed instead as Individual Permits.

Image swallow nesting along river bank  Image of River that is being threatened by development

If the Service, EPA, or NMFS believe that a proposed project whose direct impacts fall below the SPGP’s thresholds will result in more than a minimal impact, they have the ability to “kick out” the project and review it as an Individual Permit. Examples of this include projects that will affect fish and wildlife resources through the fragmentation of large blocks of habitat, projects that will impact vernal pools and projects that do not provide adequate mitigation. To find out more about each state’s SPGP, please click the link below.

Maine: (pdf size 496KB)

Vermont: (pdf size 664KB)

Connecticut: (pdf size 1.2MB)

Rhode Island: (pdf size 831KB)

New Hampshire: (pdf size 490KB)

Massachusetts: (pdf size 2.2MB)

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Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act prohibits the unauthorized obstruction or alteration of any navigable water of the United States. The Service reviews permits under Section 10 for activities that include the filling of open water, the construction of structures such as piers and bulkheads in navigable waters, dredging and beach nourishment. The Service provides recommendations on measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate fish and wildlife resources impacted by the proposed action.

Clean Water Act:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Mitigation Policy:

Army Corps of Engineers – New England District:

Section 10 of Rivers and Harbors Act:



Last updated: September 11, 2009