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Name: Julie
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Is a piece of land protected by cattails protected? (Meaning you can not touch, cover up or build on.)

Hi Julie,

It's quite possible that a piece of land with cattails is protected as a wetland. There are some federal (and probably state) statutes on wetland protection, in general you have to file environmental impact statements and such. I've heard of cases where some large projects were allowed to encroach on wetlands when the builders signed contracts requiring they construct a wetland of equivalent size on another parcel of land.

Donald Yee Ph.D.

I assume you are referring to wetlands protections. Cattails are wetland plants, and there are regulations governing - but not necessarily preventing - the development of wetlands, but cattails are also aggressive and somewhat weedy, so I doubt the presence of cattails alone would be sufficient to call an area a wetland. This is a technical question which all too often lands in legal dispute. Check with the Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and other experts in wetlands delineation and regulation.

J. Elliott

There are legal definitions for wetlands. If cattails are growing on a piece of land, it is probably a wetland because cattails need moist soil. The definition used to be that if a piece of land is saturated for 14 days straight at any point in the year it is legally a wetland and is protected. There is a loophole however called mitigation banking which means that if a wetland is destroyed in one area, another of equal size must be created in another area so there is no net loss. This has not been very successful though.

Van Hoeck

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