The Environmental Protection Agency released its final rule defining “Waters of the US” (WOTUS) over which EPA will have regulatory jurisdiction. The final regulation excludes from EPA jurisdiction a number of water features, including the following of particular importance to private forest management:
• Ephemeral streams, defined as flowing only in direct response to precipitation,
• Manmade ditches that do not flow into a regulated water, and
• Wetlands that do not touch a regulated water of the US.
The effect of these exclusions is that the listed water features will NOT, by themselves, subject timberland to EPA Clean Water Act permit requirements governing such things as the aerial application of pesticides. The wetlands exclusion will also significantly strengthen the application of “normal silviculture” permit exemption for forested wetlands. The text of the final rule can be found here.
2-13-20 PA Forest Products Association