Certain terms, which are closely associated with the regulatory program, are explained briefly in this section. If you need more detailed definitions, refer to the Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR Parts 320 through 330) or contact a Corps district regulatory office.

Activity(ies) as used in this pamphlet includes structures (for example a pier, wharf, bulkhead, or jetty) and work (which includes dredging, disposal of dredged material, filling, excavation or other modification of a navigable water of the United States).

Cumulative Effects  effects which may be substantial on their own or when combine with other past, present and reasonable foreseeable future actions. For example, a highway may avoid most of a wetland when originally permitted and built but over the years, may be widened or even dualized which may result in that wetlands are being eliminated altogether. Another example is the construction of driveways or road crossings or streams. Individually, these actions are minor. However, hundreds of crossings in a watershed with sensitive soils or fisheries resources can have a major impact on the aquatic resources.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the basic national charter for protection of the environment. The Act declares it a national policy to "encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and the environment. To promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; and to enrich the understanding of the ecological system and natural resources important to the Nation" (42 USC 4321).

Pre-application Consultation is one or more meetings between members of the district engineer's staff and an applicant and his agent or his consultant. A pre-application consultation is usually related to applications for major activities and may involve discussion of alternatives, environmental documents, National Environmental Policy Act procedures, and development of the scope of the data required when an environmental impact statement is required.

Public Hearings may be held to acquire information and give the public the opportunity to present views and opinions. The Corps may hold a hearing or participate in joint public hearings with other Federal or state agencies. The district engineer may specify in the public notice that a hearing will be held. In addition, any person may request in writing during the comment period that a hearing be held. Specific reasons must be given as to the need for a hearing. The district engineer may attempt to resolve the issue informally or he may set the date for a public hearing. Hearings are held at times and places that are convenient for the interested public. Very few applications involve a public hearing.

Public Interest Review is the term that refers to the evaluation of a proposed activity to determine probable impacts. Expected benefits are balanced against reasonably foreseeable detriments. All relevant factors are weighed. Corps policy is to provide applicants with a timely and carefully weighed decision, which reflects the public interest.

Special Aquatic Sites as defined in EPA regulations at 40 CFR Part 230.40 (Subpart E) are sanctuaries & refuges, wetlands, mud-flats, vegetated shallows, coral reefs, and riffle & pool complexes.

Special Area Management Plans enable all stakeholders to take a comprehensive look at the past and future of a geographic area and decide what resources should receive the most protection and those which can go through the normal permitting process. Base mapping (including field work), and interagency coordination and decision-making are the goals of these plans, as both of these lead to more efficient use of human, economic and natural resources. Special Area Management Plans can lead to regulatory maps and general permits to be used as an area develops.

Navigable Waters of the United States are those waters of the United States that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide shoreward to the mean high water mark. They are also presently used and have been used in the past or may be susceptible to use to transport interstate or foreign commerce. These are waters that are navigable in the traditional sense where permits are required for certain activities pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. This term should not be confused with the term waters of the United States below.

Waters of the United States is a broader term than Navigable Waters of the United States defined above. Included are adjacent wetlands and tributaries to Navigable Waters of the United States and other waters where the degradation or destruction of which could affect interstate or foreign commerce. These are the waters where permits are required for the discharge of dredged or fill material pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

Waterbody is a river, creek, stream, lake, pool, bay, wetland, marsh, swamp, tidal flat, ocean, or other water area.