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

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Delineating Freshwater Wetlands

Obtaining a Letter of Interpretation

Wetlands are commonly referred to as swamps, marshes, or bogs, however many wetlands in New Jersey do not fit this familiar description. A wetlands may be appear to be dry on the surface for much of the year but be wet in the spring or during storm events. To determine what is and is not a wetland in New Jersey, the Department has adopted and requires that the 1989 Federal Manual for Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands be used for determining the presence and extent of freshwater wetlands.

The 1989 Federal manual uses a three parameter approach and requires that a wetland include; hydric soils, wetland hydrology and hydrophytic vegetation. For detailed information, and for exceptions to this approach, please download and carefully review the 1989 Federal Manual. Details on delineating freshwater wetlands in NJ can be found on our Delineating Freshwater Wetlands webpage.

A “Letter of Interpretation” or “LOI” means a document “...issued by the Department under N.J.A.C.7:7A-4, 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.” There are five types of LOI's obtainable from the Department;

Details on each of these LOI's can be found by clicking on the links above, or by going directly to our LOI Types webpage.

The following regulations apply to all Letters of Interpretation.

  • N.J.A.C 7:7A - The entire Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules.
  • N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4 See this section for regulations that apply to all Letters of Interpretation.
  • N.J.A.C. 7:7A-16.2 See this section for general application requirements
  • N.J.A.C. 7:7A-16.3 See this section for application requirements for Letters of Interpretation

Please Note: The Department has made every effort to ensure that the text of this regulation is identical to the official, legally effective version set forth in the New Jersey Register. However, should there be any discrepancies between the text in the PDF available on this web site and the official version of the rule, the official version will govern. For more information on obtaining official versions of the rules, How To Get a Paper Copy of Department Rules

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Last Updated: February 2, 2021