Wetlands

Getting to Know Them

Wetlands can be divided into two categories: tidal and non-tidal. However, there are a variety of ways to further classify these areas and each is important for its own reasons.
Select either of the tiles below to explore the different types of wetlands and what makes them unique.
Almost anywhere you stand in Delaware puts you within one mile of a wetland. About 80% of wetlands are located on private property. There are various incentive programs to help landowners restore and protect wetland areas. The Chesapeake Bay Program also offers information for agricultural landowners on wetland restoration. For more information on wetland regulations at the state and federal levels, please view the Guidebook for Public Participation in Wetland Decision Making & Permitting
Use the map to zoom in and identify the locations of tidal and non-tidal wetlands near your home. 
This map is for guidance purposes only and should not be used to show jurisdiction.
Wetland characteristics
In order for an area to be considered a wetland, it must have three characteristics:
  • Hydrology: water at or near the surface for part of the year. During dry summer and fall months, water may not always be visible.
  • Hydrophytic plants: plants that have adapted to survive in waterlogged soils. Examples include cattails, blueberries, iris, water oak, or bald cypress.
  • Hydric soils: soils that have been soaked with water. There are many different types - some may contain clay, but many are gray in color with spots of orange and red.
What to look for
They are typically found in the lowest parts of the landscape where water and land meet. You can expect to find wetlands in or near:
  • Rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds
  • Valleys or other low areas with a high water table
  • Flat areas where dense soils prevent water from draining away
  • Low slopes where water breaks out of the ground as springs or seeps
  • Abandoned ditches or stream channels
Are we speaking a different language? Try the Wetlands Glossary.
Check out the new Delaware Wetland Plant Field Guide and data on the Condition of Tidal and Non-Tidal wetlands.

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Page reviewed 4/4/19