Agricultural and Forest Land
Wetlands related issues on farms, ranches, and forestry operations are administered by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and not the Corps of Engineers. Normal activities associated with agricultural and forestry operations are exempt from regulation under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Most of the undeveloped land around Houston has been previously used for crops, cattle and/or timber cultivation, and some properties continue to qualify for the Section 404 exemption. Existing ditches, drainage swales, culverts and drainage structures should be well-maintained before agricultural and forestry operations are abandoned.
Cattle are visible proof of 'agricultural use' for regulatory purposes and are protective of property rights. Pasture land should be maintained to facilitate good drainage and access before cattle are removed from agricultural land that qualifies for the Section 404 exemption.
Most forested land in east Texas has been previously harvested for timber. Some properties contain mature stands of second and third growth timber (pine and hardwoods). Forested land that qualifies for the Section 404 exemption should be harvested and maintained to facilitate good drainage and access, while the land is still being used for forestry operations.