Joseph G. Theis


Section 404 of the Clean Water Act is the single most important provision for the protection of the vital, yet dwindling wetlands resource. The application of section 404 to agricultural activities is of particular importance, since it has been these activities, particularly the draining and clearing of wetlands for agricultural purposes, that have resulted in the majority of all wetlands losses. In this article, the author discusses the narrow interpretation of 404 jurisdiction adopted by the Army Corps of Engineers and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has left many agricultural conversion activities unregulated, and examines recent actions by these agencies which will further narrow 404 jurisdiction over agricultural lands.