The DEP’s Watershed and Land Management Program (WLM) was created on June 1, 2020 to align elements of the Land Use Management and Water Resource Management programs. This alignment unifies and strengthens aspects of the DEP’s land use regulatory programs by taking a watershed-by-watershed approach to our stewardship of land-based resources that have a critical nexus to water quality. Through a holistic approach to planning, permitting, mitigation, and restoration of impacts to New Jersey’s watersheds, WLM works to preserve, protect, and improve the integrity of New Jersey’s water and natural resources, while protecting life and property from environmental threats.
A successful watershed program includes many elements, including assessments, monitoring, planning, public engagement, restoration, standard development, permitting and compliance. To that end, WLM consists of two divisions that work hand-in-hand to protect our precious natural resources using a watershed-based approach:
The Division of Land Resource Protection (formerly the Division of Land Use Regulation) oversees environmental permitting functions pursuant to the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, Coastal Zone Management Rules, Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules, and Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act Rules. The division also oversees WLM’s education and outreach efforts, rule and policy development, GIS and IT services, and all application support and database management functions.
The Division of Watershed Protection and Restoration is a new Division that has a comprehensive focus on protecting New Jersey’s residents from increased flood damage and runoff in light of a changing climate, facilitating community resiliency after severe weather, protecting threatened and endangered plant and animal species, and preserving and enhancing the quality of our state’s waters through robust wetland, riparian zone, and coastal resource mitigation as well as environmental restoration and enhancement projects designed to reduce water quality impairment across the state. The division additionally oversees stormwater management permitting and rulemaking efforts and development of the Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) Manual.