Any activity within a Class I or II wetland or buffer zone which is not exempt or considered an "allowed use" under the Vermont Wetland Rules requires a permit. In order to obtain a permit, an applicant must show that they are unable to perform the activity outside of the wetland or buffer zone and that they are not lowering the quality of the wetland's protected functions and values.
Many wetlands are visually rich environments because of their ecological interest and diversity. Historically, writers, artists, and photographers have been drawn to wetlands trying to capture the beauty on canvas and paper. Open wetlands, such as marshes, are often considered to be more attractive than shrub or forested wetlands.
Wetlands provide endless opportunities for popular recreational activities, such as hiking, boating, hunting, fishing, trapping and birdwatching. Almost everyone likes being on or near the water, and the presence of so many fascinating lifeforms makes our wetlands especially enjoyable treasures.
Wetlands can provide tremendous opportunities for education and research. They are good systems to study for several reasons, one of which is that they are discrete ecosystems with easily defined boundaries. They also can exhibit a high diversity of habitats and species. By examining the types of pollen in layers of peat moss taken from bogs, we can learn about historical changes in climate and vegetation over thousands of years.
Wetlands that make an important contribution to Vermont’s natural heritage are significant wetlands. These include wetlands that are identified as high quality examples of one of Vermont’s recognized natural community types.
Wetlands exhibit very high rates of plant productivity - the conversion of energy from the sun into plant materials. Recent studies suggest that some wetland types such as coastal marshes and inland freshwater marshes are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. This high productivity often supports a varied and complex food web both within and outside of the wetland.
Vegetated wetlands along the shores of lakes and rivers can protect against erosion caused by waves along the shorelines during floods and storms. Wetland plants are important because they can absorb much of the energy of the surface waters and bind soil and deposited sediments in their dense root systems.