What is a Wetland

Wetlands are critically important to Bethany Beach and Coastal Communities.  The USACE Wetlands Delineation Manual (1987) and the Regional Supplement for Delaware, describe, in great detail, how to identify wetlands.  To view these and other important references please click here and read a “Recognizing Wetlands” fact sheet with web links.



  • are areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions 
  • perform important water quality functions such as filtration, plus serve as shoreline/streambank buffers, natural water storage areas during floods, groundwater recharge areas, pollution filters, food/habitat sources for fish and wildlife, and support recreational fishing and boating
  • are transitional areas between open water and dry land and are often found along bays, lakes, rivers and streams - some are drier than others and may have standing water or saturated soil conditions only during part of the year
  • Examples include bottomland forests, swamps, bogs, marshes, wet meadows and seasonal wet woods.  "Delmarva Bays" are depression-like wetlands that are vitally important to many plant and animal species, some rare in the State of Delaware and elsewhere.
  • All of the various wetland types provide flood storage and water filtration locally and downstream.


Coastal Wetland Types:

  • Salt marshes
  • Freshwater marshes
  • Seagrass beds
  • Mangrove swamps
  • Forested swamps


Benefits Bethany Beach Wetlands Are Too Valuable to Lose:

Our wetlands perform important water quality functions such as filtration, trapping and filtering pollutants from roads, agricultural fields, and other surfaces.  They also serve as buffer areas to protect shorelines and stream-banks from erosion and storm surges, and act as natural water storage areas during floods and groundwater recharge areas.  In addition, wetlands assimilate, recycle, filter and remove pollutants from water.  Besides these critical water management benefits, wetlands provide food and habitat for an abundance and diversity of life unrivaled by most other types of environments.  Along with open water, they are breeding, spawning, feeding, cover and nursery areas for fish and are important nesting, migrating, and wintering areas for waterfowl and other wildlife.  In addition, coastal wetlands provide other benefits, including recreational fishing and boating. 

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