Maplewood's landscaped is dotted with wetlands - over 300 wetlands. Once maligned as swamps, people have come to understand how important wetlands are to both rural and urban areas.
Wetlands serve a variety of beneficial functions including providing food and habitat for wildlife, maintaining water quality by filtering pollutants, reducing flooding, and providing open space for human enjoyment. Wetlands are an important asset to the city and residents who live here.
Wetland Ordinance & Wetland Classifications
Activities in and around wetlands may degrade, pollute, accelerate the aging of or eliminate wetlands. Maplewood's wetland ordinance (City Code section 12-310) helps preserve the beneficial functions of wetlands and streams by regulating surrounding land use, educating the public, and encouraging stewardship of wetlands and wetland buffers.
Maplewood's wetlands are classified based on quality. Required wetland buffer width differs for each classification. The city's Wetland Map (see link below) shows all regulated wetlands, their classifications, and lists buffer widths. In addition to the ordinance, Maplewood has developed a guide (see link below) to help residents understand what is permitted in wetlands and wetland buffers.
- Resident's Wetland Guide (PDF)
- Wetland Management Worksheet (PDF)- Residential Buffer Alterations
- Wetland Map (PDF)
- Wetland Ordinance (PDF)
- Wetland Sign (PDF)
The city encourages residents that live on a wetland to protect the wetland and its upland buffer. The 2 important steps you can take are:
- Reduce fertilizer and pesticide use near the wetland.
- Establish a buffer of native vegetation along the wetland edge.
Restoring the wetland edge can be tricky so you'll want to do your homework before getting started. Take a tour of the shoreline plantings at Lake Phalen to see some of the shoreline plants in bloom. Stop by Maplewood Nature Center to browse their library, which includes books on plants, wildlife, and restoration. And contact your local watershed district - the districts covering Maplewood have cost-share programs to help residents with landscape projects that help protect water quality.
In spring 2011, a group of graduate students from the University of Maryland University College assisted the City of Maplewood in the review of wetland and shoreland regulations. The Capstone project compared wetlands adjacent lakes to freestanding wetlands to determine if they are used or valued differently by the public and studied whether the functions of water quality, ecology, and wildlife habitat are different.
The students' research found that based upon ecological, wildlife, and water quality aspects, wetlands adjacent lakes should be regulated just as strictly as freestanding wetlands, as all the positive benefits of buffers are the same for both types of wetlands, even though their functions may be different. But based solely on social and economic aspects, particularly recreational uses and value, less stringent buffer requirements would be justified. Download the UMUC Wetland/Shoreland Capstone Paper (PDF) for more information.