Wetlands are important Willamette Valley habitats that provide shelter and breeding areas for thousands of species. They reduce flooding by storing water and improve water quality through their filtering and cleansing abilities. Wetlands are characterized by their hydrology, hydric soils and water-tolerant vegetation. Wetlands used to cover much of the valley floor, but many acres have since been drained for agriculture or development. Because of their importance and rarity, they are protected. Before making changes to your property, contact Benton SWCD to determine if you have hydric soils. If hydric soils are present, check with Department of State Lands to see if you have a wetland. Wetlands are considered waters of the state. Projects that will add or remove 50+ cubic yards of soil require permits.