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What If I Live Near Water Where the Tide Rises and Falls? The Tidal Wetlands Permit

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

By Ashley Ellixson

Aerial image of river surrounded forest and fields (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

If your farm is located in an area near the Chesapeake Bay, the tidal tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay, or the 3-mile area seaward of the low water mark of Maryland’s Atlantic coast, you may be a candidate required to obtain a Tidal Wetlands License or Permit. In short, if the tide rises and falls near the area you plan to conduct activities or a project you will likely have to apply for a permit or license. An application for a permit or license is required to show how you will first avoid and then minimize the loss of tidal wetlands.

Why do I need this approval?

The goal of the permit is to enable reasonable use on the tidal wetlands while also protecting the essential resources the tidal wetlands provide. The permit application allows the Department of the Environment to manage these activities and grant approval if they do not harm or infringe on the tidal wetlands area.

How do I apply for the permit?

You will need to submit a joint federal/state application to the Department’s Regulatory Services Coordination Office along with 4 copies that will be distributed to the appropriate agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Even though the Department coordinates with local governments on the application process, it is your responsibility to make sure you get approval from each agency.

In addition to the application, a site inspection may be required as well as public notification and an opportunity for comment if the activity/project has a significant impact. There may also be a public hearing. Lastly, you may be required to notify adjacent property owners.

Ducks flying out of a river (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

How long will it take to get permit approval?

If your project is MINOR (as defined by the Department), you should be notified within 5 months. If your project is MAJOR, you should be notified within 10 months. If your project is defined as minor, you will not need any approvals from the federal agencies.


No fees are assessed for minor projects. However, if your project is considered major, a fee of up to $1000 is possible. This table will help guide you on potential fees.

How long will my permit be valid?

Your permit will be valid for a maximum of 3 years.

The application and guidance document:

The Tidal Wetlands Permit Checklist document:

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