Governor Chris Christie • Lt.Governor Kim Guadagno

NJ Home | Services A to Z | Departments/Agencies | FAQs  

Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

DEP Home | About DEP | Index by Topic | Programs/Units | DEP Online



Division Information
HomeNews & NoticesForms & ChecklistsMaps & GuidanceLaws & RulesContact Land UseSubscribe to E-Newsletter

PermittingCommon Project TypesFreshwater WetlandsStreams & Rivers (FHA)Coastal AreasTidelandsHighlandsMitigationPermit Extension ActElectronic (E) ServicesApplication Status

Related InformationFederal AgenciesPrograms/Commissions

Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules
N.J.A.C. 7:7A-1.4 Definitions

The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. Additional definitions specifically applicable to N.J.A.C. 7:7A-15, Mitigation, are set forth at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-15.1.

"Abandoned" means, with respect to an agricultural field, including a blueberry field or a cranberry bog, that the field was used for agriculture, but has not been used to produce a crop or product for five years or more. If an agricultural field has been abandoned for 40 or more years, it shall no longer be considered an abandoned agricultural field.

"ACOE" or "Corps" means the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

"Acid producing soils means soils that contain geologic deposits of iron sulfide minerals (pyrite or marcasite) which, when exposed to oxygen from the air or from surface waters, oxidize to produce sulfuric acid. Acid producing soils, upon excavation, generally have a pH of 4.0 or lower. After exposure to oxygen, these soils generally have a pH of 3.0 or lower. Information regarding the location of acid producing soils in New Jersey can be obtained from local Soil Conservation District offices.

"Agency of the State" means each of the principal departments in the executive branch of the State Government, and all boards, divisions, commissions, agencies, departments, councils, authorities, offices or officers within any such departments.

"Applicant" means a person who submits an application for a permit, waiver, or any other Department decision pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:7A.

"Aquatic ecosystem" means waters of the United States, including wetlands, that serve as habitat for interrelated and interacting communities and populations of plants and animals.

“Architectural survey” means an intensive-level historic architectural survey completed by an architectural historian whose qualifications meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards and related guidance as part of the larger Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Archaeology and Historic Preservation as referenced in 36 CRF 61, as amended and supplemented, incorporated herein by reference.

"Atlantic white-cedar wetlands" means a type of forested freshwater wetlands where Atlantic white-cedar tree is the dominant vegetation, as described in the Federal Manual.

"Best Management Practices" or "BMPs" means methods, measures, designs, performance standards, maintenance procedures, and other management practices which prevent or reduce adverse impacts upon or pollution of freshwater wetlands, State open waters, and adjacent aquatic habitats, which facilitate compliance with the Federal Section 404(b)(1) guidelines (40 C.F.R. Part 230), New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Flood Hazard Area Control rules, N.J.A.C. 7:13; the Department's Storm Water Management Regulations, N.J.A.C. 7:8; the Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control in New Jersey, promulgated by the New Jersey State Soil Conservation Committee at N.J.A.C. 2:90; and effluent limitations or prohibitions under Section 307(a) of the Federal Act and the Department's Surface Water Quality Standards, N.J.A.C. 7:9B. Examples include practices found at 33 C.F.R. 330.6, 40 C.F.R. 233.35(a)6, the Department's Technical Manual for Stream Encroachment, and "A Manual of Freshwater Wetland Management Practices for Mosquito Control in New Jersey." The manuals included in this definition are only a partial listing, and interested persons should contact the Department for the most up to date list.

"Category one waters" means waters designated as category one waters in the Department's Surface Water Quality Standards at N.J.A.C. 7:9B. As of September 4, 2001, N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.15 defines category one waters as those waters designated in the tables in N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.15(c) through (h), for purposes of implementing the antidegradation policies set forth at N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.5(d), for protection from measurable changes in water quality characteristics because of their clarity, color, scenic setting, other characteristics of aesthetic value, exceptional ecological significance, exceptional recreational significance, exceptional water supply significance, or exceptional fisheries resource(s). These waters may include, but are not limited to:

    1. Waters originating wholly within Federal, interstate, State, county, or municipal parks, forests, fish and wildlife lands, and other special holdings that have not been designated as FW1 at N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.15(h) Table 6;
    2. Waters classified at N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.15(c) through (g) as FW2 trout production waters and their tributaries;
    3. Surface waters classified in this subchapter as FW2 trout maintenance or FW2 nontrout that are upstream of waters classified in this subchapter as FW2 trout production;
    4. Shellfish waters of exceptional resource value; or
    5. Other waters and their tributaries that flow through, or border, Federal, State, county, or municipal parks, forests, fish and wildlife lands, and other special holdings.

"Commissioner" means the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection.

"Compelling public need" means that based on specific facts, the proposed regulated activity will serve an essential health or safety need of the municipality in which the proposed regulated activity is located, that the public health and safety benefit from the proposed use and that the proposed use is required to serve existing needs of the residents of the State, and that there is no other means available to meet the established public need.

"Conservation restriction or easement" means a restriction, easement, covenant, or condition, in any deed, will or other instrument, other than a lease, executed by or on behalf of the owner of the land, appropriate to retaining land or water areas predominantly in their natural, scenic or open or wooded conditions, or for conservation of soil or wildlife, or for outdoor recreation or park use, or as suitable habitat for fish or wildlife, to forbid or limit any or all:

    1. Construction or placing of buildings, roads, signs, billboards or other advertising, or other structures on or above the ground;
    2. Dumping or placing of soil or other substance or material as landfill, or dumping or placing of trash, waste or unsightly or offensive materials;
    3. Removal or destruction of trees, shrubs or other vegetation;
    4. Excavation, dredging or removal of loam, peat, gravel, soil, rock or other mineral substance;
    5. Surface use except for purposes permitting the land or water area to remain predominantly in its natural condition;
    6. Activities detrimental to drainage, flood control, water conservation, erosion control or soil conservation, or fish and wildlife habitat preservation; and/or
    7. Other acts or uses detrimental to the retention of land or water areas according to the purposes of this chapter.

"Contiguous" means adjacent properties, even if they are separated by human-made barriers or structures or legal boundaries. Contiguous properties shall include, but are not limited to, land areas which directly abut or are separated by a general access roadway or other right-of way, including waterways; and properties which are part of a subdivision that was under common ownership on July 1, 1988.

"Council" means the Wetlands Mitigation Council established pursuant to Section 14 of the Act.

"Critical habitat for fauna or flora" means:

    1. For fauna, areas which serve an essential role in maintaining wildlife, particularly for wintering, breeding, spawning and migrating activities;
    2. For flora, areas supporting rare or unique plant species or uncommon vegetational communities in New Jersey.

"Cultivating" means physical methods of soil treatment, employed upon planted farm, ranch or forest crops to aid and improve the growth, quality or yield of the crops.

"Degraded wetland" means a wetland in which there is impaired surface water flow or groundwater hydrology, or excessive drainage; a wetland which has been partially filled or excavated, contaminated with hazardous substances, or which has an ecological value substantially less than that of undisturbed wetlands in the region.

"Delegable waters" means all waters of the United States, as defined in this section, within New Jersey, except waters which are presently used, or are susceptible to use in their natural condition or by reasonable improvement, as a means to transport interstate or foreign commerce, shoreward to their ordinary high water mark. This term includes all waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, shoreward to their mean high water mark, including wetlands that are partially or entirely located within 1000 feet of their ordinary high water mark or mean high tide. Waters that are not delegable waters include, but are not limited to:

    1. The entire length of the Delaware River within the State of New Jersey;
    2. Waters of the United States under the jurisdiction of the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission; and
    3. Greenwood Lake.

"Department" means the Department of Environmental Protection.

"Detention basin" or "detention facility" means a human-made impoundment area made by constructing an embankment, or excavating a pit, or both, for the purpose of temporarily storing stormwater.

"Developable upland" means an upland area that could be developed under the laws that apply to the site.

"Discharge of dredged material" means any addition of dredged material into State open waters or freshwater wetlands. The term includes the addition of dredged material into State open waters or freshwater wetlands and the runoff or overflow from a contained land or water dredge material disposal area. Discharges of pollutants into State open waters resulting from the subsequent onshore processing of dredged material are not included within this term. Such discharges of pollutants may, however, be subject to the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) rules at N.J.A.C. 7:14A.

"Discharge of fill material" means the addition of fill into State open waters or freshwater wetlands. The term includes, but is not limited to, the following activities:

    1. Placement of fill that is necessary for the construction of any structure;
    2. The building of any structure or impoundment requiring rock, sand, dirt, or other materials for its construction;
    3. Site-development fill for recreational, industrial, commercial, residential, and other uses;
    4. Causeways or road fills;
    5. Dams and dikes;
    6. Artificial islands;
    7. Property protection or reclamation devices, or both, such as riprap, groins, seawalls, breakwaters, and revetments;
    8. Beach nourishment;
    9. Levees;
    10. Fill for structures such as sewage treatment facilities, intake and outfall pipes associated with power plants and underground utility lines;
    11. Artificial reefs; and
    12. Stump removal.

"Ditch" means a linear topographic depression with bed and banks of human construction, which conveys water to or from a site, which is surrounded by uplands and which is not located within a wetland. This does not include channelized or redirected natural water courses.

"Documented habitat for threatened or endangered species" means areas for which:

    1. There is recorded evidence of past use by a threatened or endangered species of flora or fauna for breeding, resting, or feeding. Evidence of past use by a species may include, but is not limited to, sightings of the species, or of its sign (for example, skin, scat, shell, track, nest, herbarium records, etc.), as well as identification of its call; and
    2. The Department makes the finding that the area remains suitable for use by the specific documented threatened or endangered species during the normal period(s) the species would use the habitat.

"Drainage" means active or passive methods for changing the hydrologic conditions of wetlands or State open water, such as lowering groundwater or surface water levels through pumping, ditching, or otherwise altering water flow patterns.

"Dredging" means removal of wetlands or State open water soils or sediments through use of mechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic tools or other means.

"Dredged material" means material that is excavated or dredged from waters of the United States.

"Dumping" means the discharge, placement or abandonment of solid, semi-solid or liquid materials.

"Environmental commission" means a municipal advisory body created pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:56A-1 et seq.

"EPA priority wetlands" means wetlands which are designated as priority wetlands by EPA, and are listed on the "Priority Wetlands List for the State of New Jersey," which is available from the Department's Office of Maps and Publications at the address listed at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-1.3.

"Established, ongoing farming, ranching or silviculture operation" means activities on areas subject to a farming, ranching, or silviculture use as of June 30, 1988, which use has been pursued continuously since June 30, 1988. Activities on areas lying fallow as part of a conventional rotational cycle that does not exceed five years are part of an established operation. Activities which bring an area into farming, silviculture, or ranching use are not part of an established operation. An operation ceases to be established when the area on which it was conducted has been converted to another use or has lain idle for so long that modifications to the hydrological regime are necessary to resume operations, or for more than five years, whichever is shorter.

“Fair market value” or “market value” means the most probable price for which land will sell in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably, and assuming the price is not affected by any unusual benefit to the purchaser.

"Farmed wetland" means a freshwater wetland, as defined in this section, which was both manipulated and cropped before December 23, 1985, and has been in active agricultural use continuously since then. This term also includes a wetland that was manipulated and used for pasture or hayland before December 23, 1985, which has been in active use for pasture or hayland continuously since then. An area that lies fallow as part of a conventional rotational cycle that does not exceed five years is considered to be in active agricultural use.

"Federal act" means the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. §§1251 et seq., including any amendments and supplements, and implementing regulations. This statute is sometimes referred to as the Federal Clean Water Act.

"Excavation" means to dig or remove soil, rocks, etc., resulting in a change in site elevation.

"Federal 404 program" means the program regulating the discharge of dredged or fill materials pursuant to Section 404 of the Federal Act.

"Fill" means the deposition or placement of material such as soil, sand, earth, rock, concrete, pavement, or solid material of any kind; so as to change the ground elevation in relation to surface water or groundwater level. "Fill" also means the material deposited.

"Forested" means that tree species with an average height greater than 20 feet are the predominant vegetation present.

"FW" means the general surface water classification applied to fresh waters in the Department's Surface Water Quality Standards, N.J.A.C. 7:9B.

"FW1 waters" means waters designated as FW1 waters in the Department's Surface Water Quality Standards, N.J.A.C. 7:9B. As of September 4, 2001, N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.15 defines FW1 waters as those fresh waters wholly within Federal or State lands or special holdings, that are preserved for posterity, and are not subject to wastewater discharges of human origin.

"FW2 waters" means waters designated as FW2 waters in the Department's Surface Water Quality Standards, N.J.A.C. 7:9B.

"Freshwater wetland" or "wetland" means an area that is inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances does support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions, commonly known as hydrophytic vegetation; provided, however, that the Department, in designating a wetland, shall use the three-parameter approach (that is, hydrology, soils and vegetation) enumerated in the 1989 Federal Manual as defined in this section. These include tidally influenced wetlands which have not been included on a promulgated map pursuant to the Wetlands Act of 1970, N.J.S.A. 13:9A-1 et seq.

"Freshwater wetlands permit" means a permit to engage in a regulated activity in a freshwater wetland issued pursuant to the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act and this chapter.

"Gabion" means a shore or stream bank protection structure, that is made of wire mesh basket(s) or mattress(es) filled with rocks and usually used in multiples as a structural unit installed to withstand the forces of waves and currents.

"General permit" means a permit, adopted as a rule, under which the Department issues authorizations. A general permit may authorize regulated activities in freshwater wetlands, State open waters, and/or transition areas. An authorization issued under a general permit satisfies the requirement for a freshwater wetlands permit, open water fill permit, and/or transition area waiver, as applicable.

"Government agency" means any department, division, authority, board, commission, office, bureau, agency, committee or other instrumentality of the United States, or of the State or any political subdivision thereof.

"Harvesting" means physical measures employed directly upon farm, forest, or ranch crops within established agricultural and silvicultural lands to bring about their removal from farm, forest, or ranch land, but does not include the construction of farm, forest, or ranch roads or other engineering practices such as drainage which would alter the existing character of the farm, forest or ranch land.

“Historic preservation restriction or easement” means an interest in land less than fee simple absolute, stated in the form of a right, restriction, easement, covenant, or condition, in any deed, will or other instrument, other than a lease, executed by or on behalf of the owner of the land, appropriate to preserving a structure or site which is historically significant for its architecture, archeology or associations, to forbid or limit any or all:

    1. Alteration in exterior or interior feature of such structure;
    2. Changes in appearance or condition of such site;
    3. Uses of such structure or site which are not historically appropriate; and/or
    4. Other acts or uses detrimental to the appropriate preservation of such structure or site.

“HUC” means the hydrologic unit code system developed by the United States Geological Service for delineating and identifying drainage areas. The system starts with the largest possible drainage areas and progressively smaller subdivisions of the drainage area are delineated and numbered in a nested fashion. As used in this chapter, “HUC 14” indicates a drainage area with a hydrologic unit code designation with 14 numbers. “HUC 11” indicates a larger subwatershed that is composed of several HUC 14 subwatersheds. There are 921 HUC 14 subwatersheds in New Jersey that range in size from 0.1 to 42 square miles. The boundaries are included in the United States Geological Survey, Water Resources Investigations Report 95-4134, 1995, entitled "Development of a 14-digit Hydrologic Coding Scheme and Boundary Data Set for New Jersey." The HUC codes for New Jersey can be downloaded from http.//www.nj.gov/dep/gis/. The HUC 11 data is entitled "subwatersheds." Software designed for use with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will be required to view the downloaded data.

"Hydric soil" means a soil that in its undrained condition is saturated, flooded, or ponded long enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions that favor the growth and regeneration of hydrophytic vegetation. These soils may be described in several places, including New Jersey's Official List of Hydric Soils, developed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service; the National Wetlands Inventory, entitled "The Wetlands of New Jersey", published in 1985 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service; or in the 1989 Federal manual. Alluvial land, as mapped on soil surveys, or other soils exhibiting hydric characteristics identified through field investigation as described in Part III of the 1989 Federal manual may also be considered a hydric soil for the purposes of wetland classification. Also, wet phases of somewhat poorly drained soils not on New Jersey's Official List of Hydric Soils may be associated with a wetland and therefore for the purposes of this chapter shall be considered a hydric soil.

"Hydrophyte" means plant life adapted to growth and reproduction under periodically saturated root zone conditions during at least a portion of the growing season. A listing of these plants can be found in the "National List of Plant Species that Occur in Wetlands: 1988-New Jersey" and amendments thereto, compiled by the USFWS, ACOE, EPA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"Impervious surface" means any structure or surface which prevents absorption of stormwater into land. Examples of impervious surfaces are pavement, rooftops, sidewalks, driveways, tennis courts and swimming pools.

"Individual permit" means a freshwater wetlands permit or open water fill permit that is issued by the Department after an alternatives test and other site-specific and project-specific reviews required at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-7.

"Intermittent stream" means surface water drainage channels with definite bed and banks in which there is not a permanent flow of water. Most intermittent streams are shown on Soil Conservation Service county soil surveys.

"Isolated wetlands " means a freshwater wetland that is not "part of a surface water tributary system," as defined in this section.

"Lake, pond, or reservoir" means any impoundment of water, whether naturally occurring or created in whole or in part by the building of structures for the retention of surface water.

"Letter of interpretation" or "LOI" means the document issued by the Department under N.J.A.C. 7:7A-3, indicating the presence or absence of wetlands, State open waters, or transition areas; verifying or delineating the boundaries of freshwater wetlands, State open waters, and/or transition areas; or assigning a wetland a resource value classification.

"Linear development" means land uses such as roads, drives, railroads, sewerage and stormwater management pipes, gas and water pipelines, electric, telephone and other transmission lines and the rights-of-way therefor, the basic function of which is to connect two points. Linear development shall not mean residential, commercial, office, or industrial buildings, improvements within a development such as utility lines or pipes, or internal circulation roads.

"Major discharge" means a discharge or activity that the Department must transmit to EPA for review in accordance with the Department's 1993 MOA with EPA regarding assumption of the Federal 404 program. Provisions regarding EPA review of major discharges are found at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-12.2. The following are major discharges:

    1. A draft general permit;
    2. A discharge with reasonable potential to affect Federally listed or proposed endangered or threatened species as determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
    3. A discharge of dredged or fill material which has the potential for adverse impacts on the waters of a state other than New Jersey;
    4. A discharge known or suspected to contain:
      1. Toxic pollutants as identified by Section 307(a)(1) of the Federal act;
      2. Hazardous substances identified pursuant to Section 311 of the Federal act and Section 101(14) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. §§9601 et seq.;
      3. Toxic substances as defined by Section 3 of the Toxic Substances Control Act, 15 U.S.C. §§2601 et seq.; or
      4. Hazardous waste as defined by Section 1004(5) of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. §§6901 et seq.;
    5. A discharge located in the proximity of a public water supply intake;
    6. A discharge within a critical area established under State or Federal law, including but not limited to a National or State park; fish or wildlife sanctuary or refuge; National or historical monument; wilderness area or preserve; a site identified or proposed under the National Historic Preservation Act; or a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system;
    7. The filling of five or more acres of freshwater wetlands and/or State open waters;
    8. Any regulated activity that results in a significant reduction in the ecological, commercial, or recreational values of five or more acres of freshwater wetlands or State open waters;
    9. A culvert enclosure longer than 100 feet; or
    10. Channelization of more than 500 feet of a river or stream.

"Maximum extent practicable" means to the maximum extent after weighing, evaluating and interpreting alternatives to protect the ecological integrity of a wetland or State open water.

"Mitigation" means activities carried out pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:7A-15 in order to compensate for freshwater wetlands or State open waters loss or disturbance caused by regulated activities.

"Natural Resources Conservation Service" or "NRCS" means the arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical assistance with USDA conservation programs associated with soil, water, and other related natural resources. The Natural Resources Conservation Service was previously known as the Soil Conservation Service.

"1989 Federal Manual" means the Federal Manual for Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands, published in 1989 by the EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly the Soil Conservation Service), as amended and/or supplemented, which Manual is incorporated herein by reference.

"Non-delegable waters" mean waters that are not delegable waters.

"Normal rainfall year" means a 12 month period in which the precipitation at a location is within 10% of the average annual precipitation for that location, calculated using the standard averaging period for "normals," established by the World Meteorological Organization, except that the Department may determine normal rainfall on a case-by-case basis in unusual situations, such as where the sampling period begins immediately following prolonged drought conditions. As of September 4, 2001, the World Meteorological Organization has defined the standard averaging period as 1961 through 1990. Information regarding the standard averaging period can be found in the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service website at www.nrcs.usda.gov/water/climate.

"Offsite" means the area not onsite.

"Onsite" means the area located within the site, as defined in this section.

"Open water fill permit" means the type of New Jersey Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit issued pursuant to this chapter and N.J.S.A. 58:10A-1 et seq., which governs the discharge of dredged or fill material into State open waters.

"Ordinary high water mark" means that line on the shore established by the fluctuations of water and indicated by physical characteristics such as clear, natural line impressed on the bank, shelving, changes in the character of soil, destruction of terrestrial vegetation, presence of litter and debris, or other appropriate means that consider the characteristics of the surrounding areas.

"Palustrine emergent" means a wetlands vegetation pattern in which persistent and nonpersistent grasses, rushes, sedges, forbs and other herbaceous or grass-like plants are the dominant vegetation.

"Part of a surface water tributary system" means connected to a surface water that discharges into a lake, pond, river, stream or other surface water feature. The connection may be through any surface water feature, whether regulated or not, including a stormwater or drainage pipe. The connection may be through a secondary flow channel or other feature. However, the connection may be through overland flow only if there is evidence of scouring, erosion, or concentrated flows. The connection may not be through groundwater alone. Wetlands adjacent to a surface water are connected to the surface water and are part of the surface water tributary system.

"Permit" means an approval to engage in a regulated activity in a freshwater wetland, State open water, or transition area, issued by the Department under this chapter. The Department issues the following permits under this chapter:

    1. Freshwater wetlands permits including general permit authorizations;
    2. Open water fill permits; and
    3. Transition area waivers.

"Permittee" means a person to whom the Department has issued a permit or a waiver under this chapter.

"Person" means an individual, corporation, corporate officer or official, partnership, association, the Federal government, the State, municipality, commission or political subdivision of the State or any interstate body.

“Phase IA historical and archaeological survey” means an archaeological survey the purpose of which is to identify resources completed by an archaeologist whose qualifications meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards and related guidance as part of the larger Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Archaeology and Historic Preservation as referenced in 36 CFR 61, as amended and supplemented, incorporated herein by reference.

"Pilings" means timber, metal, concrete or other similar structures driven, dropped, poured, or placed to support a vertical load.

"Plowing" means all forms of primary tillage, including moldboard, chisel, or wide-blade, plowing, discing, harrowing, and similar physical means utilized on farm, forest or ranch land for the breaking up, cutting, turning over, or stirring of soil to prepare it for the planting of crops. The term does not include the redistribution of dredged material, rock, sand, or other surface materials in a manner which changes any area of wetlands to dry land. For example, the redistribution of surface materials by blading, grading, or other means to fill in wetland areas is not plowing. Rock crushing activities which result in the loss of natural drainage characteristics, the reduction of water storage and recharge capabilities, or the overburden of natural water filtration capacities do not constitute plowing. Plowing will never involve a discharge of material.

"Practicable alternative" means other choices available and capable of being carried out after taking into consideration cost, existing technology, and logistics in light of overall project purposes, and may require an area not owned by the applicant which could reasonably have been or be obtained, utilized, expanded, or managed in order to fulfill the basic purpose of the proposed activity.

"Preliminary approval" means the conferral of certain rights pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D-46, 48 and 49 prior to final approval after specific elements of a development plan have been agreed upon by the planning board and the applicant.

"Project" means the following:

  1. For the purpose of a transition area exemption under N.J.A.C. 7:7A-2.8(f) based on the application for or the grant of a preliminary site plan approval:
    1. All buildings, structures, pavements, and other improvements specifically depicted on the site plans referenced in the resolution approving the site plan; and
    2. For the purpose of a transition area exemption under N.J.A.C. 7:7A-2.8(f) based on the application for or the grant of a preliminary subdivision approval:
      1. Where subdivision approval is the last stage of municipal review before the owner/applicant may apply for a building permit to begin construction, the "project" is the development of the subdivision consistent with the lot coverage, use, and density restrictions of the zoning ordinance in effect at the time of the subdivision approval; or
      2. Where site plan approval is required prior to construction, "project" means the proposed economic development, whether commercial, industrial or residential, intended to be constructed on that portion of a tract of land that is the focus of the qualifying approval. Although "project" is not limited to specific structures shown on the subdivision plans, it is limited to development on those portions of a tract of land that were the focus of the qualifying subdivision application or approval. Development on other lands, such as development on the remainder of a larger tract or on a contiguous property in common ownership, are not included within a "project." In order to determine if an applicant qualifies for an exemption under this definition, the Department will determine the existence of a proposed economic development at the time of the subdivision application. Because the purpose of the exemption is to protect that degree of investment in planning and development that the preliminary site plan or subdivision application normally represents, where the subdivision is merely a division of land and no substantial investment was made in planning or development, there can be no exempted project. Therefore, an application for the subdivision of lands simply for future development, yet to be planned, or simply for resale shall not qualify for an exemption. To determine the existence of a proposed economic development and to determine which portion of a tract was the focus of subdivision approval or application, the Department will examine the resolution granting approval and any documentation submitted with the application, including, but not limited to, drainage, engineering, traffic, utility, landscaping, soil and environmental plans and reports as well as the subdivision plan. In cases where the above information is unclear, the Department may consider money spent or obligated on engineering and design in the preparation of the subdivision application to determine if a substantial investment has been made in an economic development. Money spent or obligated for the initial purchase, carrying costs, or legal services will not be considered in determining the existence of a proposed economic development.
      3. The following are examples of how the Department will determine the "project" exempted on the basis of the application for or grant of preliminary subdivision approval:
        1. Where a project was to be developed in three sections but a complete application for preliminary approval was submitted, accepted and subsequently approved for only one section, only the development planned for that section is exempt and the development envisioned for sections two and three is not exempt. This is not altered by the fact that some depiction of that future development on the remainder of the parcel might be required by a local planning board in concept or sketch form;
        2. Where an entire parcel is subdivided into five conforming residential lots, the residential development planned on all five lots is exempt. However, where the focus of the subdivision application and approval is on less than the entire tract of land, which lesser portion is divided into five single family house lots, and the remainder of the tract is left as a bulk parcel for further subdivision or other planning board approval, only development on the five lots is exempt. It is irrelevant that the configuration of the remainder lot has been changed by the subdivision or that the remainder lot has been renumbered;
        3. Where the land to be divided for a commercial industrial park straddles two townships and the developer received approval to subdivide the land in township A and sold the unsubdivided portion in township B to another developer, only the development on the land in township A could be considered the subject of township A's subdivision approval. Therefore, only the development on the land in township A is exempt. It is irrelevant that the original developer had, from the start, contemplated a commercial industrial park for the property in both townships or that the office building contemplated on the land in township B did not require further subdivision;
        4. Where land is divided for the sole purpose of bequeathing it sometime in the future to one's children to be developed as they wish, no economic development was contemplated when the application was made or approval granted. After the land passes to the children and one of them decides to build, that development is not exempt. The purpose of the exemption is to protect that degree of investment in planning and development that the preliminary site plan or subdivision application normally represents. Where the subdivision is merely a division of land and no investment was made in the planning or development, there can be no exempted project; and
        5. Where land is subdivided but requires further subdivision, other than de minimis changes for road right of ways or other infrastructure, before the applicant can proceed to the next step of municipal approval (either building permits or site plan approvals), there is no evidence of intended economic development at the time of initial subdivision application or approval, because the proposed economic development only comes into being with the subsequent, untimely subdivision. Therefore, there is no basis for exemption.

"Property as a whole" means all property assembled as one investment or to further one development plan. The property as a whole may include more than one municipal tax block or lot. The property as a whole may also include blocks or lots that were previously sold or developed, if those blocks or lots and the remaining unsold or undeveloped blocks or lots were part of one.

"Public hearing" means an administrative non-adversarial type hearing before a representative or representatives of the Department providing the opportunity for public comment, but does not include cross-examination.

"Redevelopment" means the construction of structures or improvements on or below impervious surfaces, as defined in this section, or other significantly disturbed area.

"Regulated activity" means any of the activities described at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-2.2 or at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-2.6.

"Seeding" means the sowing of seed and placement of seedlings to produce farm, ranch, or forest crops and includes the placement of soil beds for seeds or seedlings on established farm and forest lands.

"Silviculture" means the art and science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests and woodlands to meet the diverse needs and values of landowners and society on a sustainable basis. The normal harvesting of forest products is a part of some silviculture operations. Orchards, tree farms and nurseries are not silviculture but are farming.

"Site" means the area within the legal boundary of the property(ies) or right-of-way for which a letter of interpretation is requested, or upon which a regulated activity is proposed, is occurring, or has occurred, plus any contiguous land owned or controlled by the same person(s). This term also includes an area which is the subject of an application for a letter of interpretation or which is the location of a proposed mitigation bank. For the purposes of this definition, the legal boundary of a property or right-of-way shall be the boundary as it existed on July 1, 1988, except that if additional contiguous lots and/or blocks were acquired after July 1, 1988, or if lots were merged after July 1, 1988, these lots are included in the site, and the legal boundary of the property or right-of-way shall be the boundary of all contiguous land owned or controlled by the same person(s), as it exists on the date an application is submitted under this chapter. The legal boundary of a property is set forth in the deed(s) for the property or other legally binding document that sets forth a boundary. The legal boundary of a right-of-way is set forth in the document creating the right-of-way.

"Soil Conservation District" means a local subdivision of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA), established pursuant to N.J.S.A. 4:24-1 et seq. Generally, each Soil Conservation District administers NJDA programs for a single county, although some administer programs for more than one county. The Soil Conservation Districts are overseen by the New Jersey State Soil Conservation Committee in the NJDA, which promulgates the Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control in New Jersey, N.J.A.C. 2:90.

"Special aquatic site" means a site described in subpart E of the 404(b)1 guidelines (40 C.F.R. 230 et seq.), except freshwater wetlands which, for the purposes of this chapter, shall not be considered special aquatic sites. In general, special aquatic sites are geographic areas, large or small, possessing special ecological characteristics of productivity, habitat, wildlife protection, or other important and easily disrupted functions and values. These areas are generally recognized as significantly influencing or positively contributing to the general overall environmental health or vitality of the entire ecosystem of a region. As of September 4, 2001, the following special aquatic sites are described in subpart E of the 404(b)1 guidelines (40 C.F.R. 230 et seq.): sanctuaries and refuges, wetlands (note: while freshwater wetlands are excluded from the definition of a special aquatic site for purposes of this chapter, other wetlands, such as most coastal wetlands, would be considered special aquatic sites), mud flats, vegetated shallows, coral reefs, and riffle and pool complexes.

"State Forester" means the chief forester employed by the Department.

"State open waters" means all waters of the State as defined in this section, including waters of the United States as defined in this section, but excluding ground water as defined at N.J.A.C. 7:14A, and excluding freshwater wetlands as defined in this section. The following waters will generally not be considered State open waters for the purposes of this chapter. However, the Department shall determine, on a case-by-case basis, if a particular watercourse or water body listed below is a State open water:

    1. Non-tidal drainage and irrigation ditches excavated on dry land;
    2. Artificially irrigated areas which would revert to upland if the irrigation ceased;
    3. Artificial lakes or ponds created by excavating and/or diking dry land to collect and retain water and which are used exclusively for such purposes as stock watering, irrigation, settling basins, or rice growing;
    4. Artificial reflecting or swimming pools or other small ornamental bodies of water created by excavating and/or diking dry land to retain water for primarily aesthetic reasons;
    5. Water-filled depressions created in dry land incidental to construction or remediation activity and pits excavated in dry land for the purpose of obtaining fill, sand, or gravel unless and until the construction or excavation operation is abandoned and the resulting body of water meets the definition of "waters of the United States";
    6. Waste treatment systems, including treatment ponds or lagoons designed to meet the requirements of the Federal act (other than cooling ponds);
    7. Erosional channels less than two feet wide and six inches deep in upland areas resulting from poor soil management practices; and
    8. Stormwater management facilities created in uplands.

"Stormwater management facility" means a facility which receives, stores, conveys or discharges stormwater runoff and is designed in accordance with applicable local, county and State regulations. These facilities may include retention basins, detention basins, infiltration structures, grassed swales, rip-rap channels and/or stormwater outfalls.

"Swale" means a linear topographic depression, either naturally occurring or of human construction, which meets all of the following criteria:

    1. It is surrounded by uplands except where runoff flows out of it.
      1. A depression is not a swale if it is located within a larger wetland or if it is merely an undulation in a wetland boundary;
      2. A depression is not a swale if it is naturally occurring, contains palustrine forest, and is located within an upland forest;
    2. It has formed or was constructed in uplands to convey surface water runoff from the surrounding upland areas;
    3. It drains less than 50 acres;
    4. It is not a seep or spring;
    5. It is not an intermittent stream;
    6. It has no definite bed and banks; and
    7. At its widest point, it is generally 50 feet wide or narrower.

"Temporary disturbance" means a disturbance caused by permitted regulated activities that are permanently discontinued within six months after they are begun.

"Threatened or endangered species" means a species identified pursuant to the Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act, N.J.S.A. 23:2A-1 et seq., or those identified pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. §§1531 et seq., and subsequent amendments thereto.

"Tidal waters" means fresh or saline waters under tidal influence, up to the head of the tide.

"Transition area" means an area of upland adjacent to a freshwater wetland which minimizes adverse impacts on the wetland or serves as an integral component of the wetlands ecosystem.

"Transition area waiver" or "waiver" means a waiver issued by the Department under this chapter, authorizing any of the regulated activities enumerated at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-2.6 in a transition area.

"Tree" means a woody plant which is five inches or greater in diameter at a height of four and one half feet above the ground.

"Trout production waters" means waters designated in the Department's Surface Water Quality Standards, N.J.A.C. 7:9B, for use by trout for spawning or nursery purposes during their first summer.

"USEPA" or "EPA" means the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

"USFWS" means the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service.

"USGS" means the United States Geological Survey.

"USGS quad map" means a topographic quadrangle map issued by the USGS, 7.5 minute series, drawn at a scale of 1:24,000, available from the Department's Maps and Publications Office at the address listed in N.J.A.C. 7:7A-1.3.

"Utility line" means a pipe, cable, line, conduit, or wire for the transport or transmission of gases, liquids, electrical energy or communications. This term includes a tower or pole required to support a utility line, but does not include a tower or pole that only transmits waves through the air, such as for radio, television, or telephone transmission. The term "utility line" does not include a stormwater pipe, or a pipe that drains a wetland or State open water, such as a drainage tile.

"Vernal habitat" means a wetland as identified at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-2.3, or State open water, as defined at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-1.4 above that meets all of the criteria at 1 through 4 below. Evidence of breeding by an obligate species under 2i below creates a rebuttable presumption that the criteria at 3 and 4 below are met:

  1. Occurs in or contains a confined basin depression without a permanent flowing outlet;
  2. Features evidence of breeding by one or more species of fauna adapted to reproduce in ephemeral aquatic conditions, identified in N.J.A.C. 7:7A, Appendix 1, incorporated herein by reference. The following shall constitute evidence of breeding by such a species:
    1. One or more obligate species listed in Appendix 1, or evidence of such a species, is found in or immediately adjacent to the area of ponded water; or
    2. Two or more facultative species listed in Appendix 1, or evidence of the presence of such a species, are found in or immediately adjacent to the area of ponded water;
  3. Maintains ponded water for at least two continuous months between March and September of a normal rainfall year; and
  4. Is free of reproducing fish populations throughout the year, or dries up at some time during a normal rainfall year.

"Water-dependent activity" means an activity that cannot physically function without direct access to the body of water along which it is proposed. An activity that can function on a site not adjacent to the water is not considered water dependent regardless of the economic advantages that may be gained from a waterfront location.

"Water Pollution Control Act" means the New Jersey Water Pollution Control Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10A-1 et seq.

"Waters of the State" means the ocean and its estuaries, all springs, streams, wetlands, and bodies of surface or ground water, whether natural or artificial, within the boundaries of the State of New Jersey or subject to its jurisdiction.

"Waters of the United States" means:

  1. All waters which are currently used, were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide;
  2. All interstate waters including interstate wetlands;
  3. All other waters such as intrastate lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), wetlands, mudflats, sand flats, sloughs, wet meadows, or natural ponds the use, degradation, or destruction of which would affect or could affect interstate or foreign commerce including any such waters:
    1. Which are or could be used by interstate or foreign travelers for recreational or other purposes;
    2. From which fish or shellfish are or could be taken and sold in interstate or foreign commerce;
    3. Which are used or could be used for industrial purposes by industries in interstate commerce;
    4. Which are or would be used as habitat by birds protected by Migratory Bird Treaties;
    5. Which are or would be used as habitat by other migratory birds which cross state lines;
    6. Which are or would be used as habitat for endangered and threatened species; or
    7. Which are used to irrigate crops sold in interstate commerce;
  4. All impoundments of waters otherwise defined as waters of the United States under this definition;
  5. Tributaries of waters identified in paragraphs 1 through 4 of this definition;
  6. The territorial seas; and
  7. Wetlands adjacent to waters identified in paragraphs 1 through 6 of this definition, other than those that are themselves wetlands.

"Water quality certificate" means a Department determination issued for a proposed activity which requires a Federal license or permit, pursuant to 33 U.S.C. §1341 of the Federal Act and N.J.S.A. 58:10A-1 et seq.

"Working day" means a day upon which the offices of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection are open for business.

bottom bar

Division: home | news/notices | laws/rules | forms/checklists | maps/guidance | contact
Department: njdep home | about dep | index by topic | programs/units | dep online
Statewide: njhome | citizen | business | government | services A to Z | departments | search

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2014
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402
Last Updated: January 9, 2014