Articles & Reports – Development and the Wetlands

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History & Science

Stakeholder Perspectives

Sustainable Design



Diagram of the Cane Bayou Mitigation Bank (Source: St. Tammany Parish)

St. Tammany Parish Government - APR 2020

"Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President, announced today, the opening of the Cane Bayou Mitigation Bank, and conservation project; the first of its kind in St. Tammany Parish. A culmination of over five years of work has resulted in roughly 1,200 acres of tree-populated land which will be preserved, and a portion utilized, for wetlands mitigation by St. Tammany Parish Government. Wetlands mitigation credits, required by federal law when natural resources are disrupted through developmental impacts, were previously purchased from out-of-state companies at a much higher cost. St. Tammany Parish Government will fund the bank out of capital project funds in the amount of $6,000 per credit, as opposed to market value which can range up $22,000 per credit."

Logo for the National Wildlife Federation.

National Wildlife Federation - JUN 1998

"'Build your house in a wetland, and you've got a hobby for the rest of your life,' warns Ed Perry. 'You will be fighting that water forever.'

A student of flooded basements and cracked foundations, Perry knows what he's talking about. While investigating illegally filled wetlands in Pennsylvania for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the biologist has visited plenty of houses built where water naturally flows and has commiserated with sorrowful owners of sodden split-levels. The lesson, says Perry, is that home builders who tamper with even small wetlands can have big problems."

A creek runs through a wetland (Source: NOAA)

NOAA - FEB 2020

"Look beyond the beauty of our coastal wetlands and you’ll find this habitat hard at work. Wetlands filter our water, protect our coastal communities from floods, and provide habitat for fish and other wildlife.

Coastal wetlands are some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth, and generate more than half of commercially harvested seafood in the United States.  In 2015, U.S. fisheries supported 1.6 million jobs (a 1 percent increase from 2011) and contributed $208 billion in sales (a 12 percent increase from 2011).

Development and agriculture contribute extra nutrients, pesticides, and silt to local rivers. Runoff from hard surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and rooftops is a leading cause of water pollution. Wetlands trap and filter these impurities, maintaining healthy rivers, bays and beaches."

A New Hampshire Wetland. (Source: EPA)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Feb 2016

"Wetlands contribute to the national and local economies by producing resources, enabling recreational activities and providing other benefits, such as pollution control and flood protection. While it can be difficult to calculate the economic value provided by a single wetland, it is possible to evaluate the range of services provided by all wetlands and assign a dollar value. These amounts can be impressive.

According to one assessment of natural ecosystems, the dollar value of wetlands worldwide was estimated to be $14.9 trillion. (Source: Costanza et al. 1997) This fact sheet summarizes some of the important ways in which wetlands contribute to the economy."

Address crossed out along ”Farm Road." (Source: David Rotenstein, NCPH)

National Council on Public History - Jul 2016

"In its infancy, gentrification was a word used to describe changes in urban neighborhoods. Now, gentrification has been documented in suburbs and rural areas around the world. It is even sweeping through Washington, DC’s suburban counties, where farmlands are being converted into housing and mixed-use developments. The “Farm Road” case in Maryland’s Montgomery County is a troubling example of rural gentrification and historical erasure."

Shoreline erosion around Lake Pontchartrain. (Source: USGS).

U.S. Geological Survey - NOV 2017

"Shoreline erosion and wetlands loss are serious concerns in and around Lake Pontchartrain. Causes of loss involve a complex interaction between natural and human activities. Direct removal of land for canals, redistribution of material for development and other processes that alter hydrography create conditions of erosion, submergence and degradation of vegetation. In general, the utilization of Pontchartrain Basin's natural resources, steady population growth and land development over the past century have contributed to the shoreline and wetland loss that we see today. Natural subsidence, a result of dewatering in geologically young sediments, also contributes to the loss in currently unknown proportions. "

Logo for The New Orleans Advocate and The Times-Picayune

The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate - FEB 2020

"Residents of the Goodbee area northwest of Covington who have been fighting the development of new subdivisions in the flood-prone area for years got some good news at the St. Tammany Parish Zoning Commission’s Feb. 4 meeting.

Commissioners approved a request to reduce the size of the planned unit development formerly known as The Preserve at Goodbee Lakes from 75 to 32 acres and rezone the remaining 43 acres to A-1 Suburban District so they could be maintained as wetlands. The number of homesites would be reduced from 92 to 66."

Brown pelicans fly with a view of Fontainebleau State Park (Source:

The Times-Picayune and The New Orleans Advocate - JUL 2019

"St. Tammany Parish's supply of hotel rooms far outstrips the current demand, according to a study paid for by the parish's tourism commission, but even so, consultants say a 150-room hotel and conference center should be developed at Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville.

Not everyone agrees. "

Logo for the Land Conservation Assistance Network

Land Conservation Assistance Network - 2020

"A conservation servitude, known as a conservation easement in other states, is a voluntary deeded restriction on your property that prevents it from being developed in certain ways. However, it does not mean that you relinquish ownership of the property. You can still sell, mortgage, and pass the land to your children.

Conservation servitudes are flexible in that you can pick restrictions and requirements that fit your conservation vision. For example, you can restrict development of homes and roads on the property or subdivision of the land, but if you wish you can continue sustainable farming, ranching, or logging operations that are consistent with the conservation purpose of the servitude. "

Rendering of the Versailles Business Center (Source: Gulf States Real Estate Services)

BIZ New Orleans - MAR 2016

"Today’s Northshore millennials are spreading their wings to find new housing and livelihoods in newly developed parts of St. Tammany Parish. And it’s not just homeowners, either: Regional companies are finding the Northshore to their liking as well.

These two demographic factors —millennials and new companies — have helped sustain the economic engine of the latest and largest mixed-use developments of retail, residential and office hubs across the parish. To St. Tammany’s economic leaders, the crystal ball is even more promising: This trend of positive growth is expected to continue for quite some time."

Logo for the Bureau of Governmental Research.

Bureau of Governmental Research - NOV 2003

"St. Tammany Parish has spent decades engaged in the business of poorly guided development. The results: willy-nilly growth patterns, environmental degradation, traffic congestion, and a declining quality of life.

Concerned with the consequences of inadequately controlled growth, the Parish is currently engaged in the New Directions 2025 comprehensive planning process. The process began with a vision to bring growth under control and preserve quality of life. But as time passes, that vision continues to disintegrate before citizens’ very eyes.

In this report, BGR examines St. Tammany’s vision for the future and the obstacles to bringing that vision to fruition. It discusses options for removing those obstacles and radically redefining the way growth occurs."

A city intersection featuring old and new architecture. (Source: Green Street St. Louis)

Green Street St. Louis - Feb 2017

"With new construction in the works on practically every corner in booming American metropolises, the reigning philosophy of urban development seems to be “out with the old and in with the new.” But is this constant race towards bigger, better, and shinier projects really beneficial to city residents and visitors?"

Logo for the 2019 Louisiana Smart Growth Summit.

Center for Planning Excellence - 2019

"At the 2015 Smart Growth Summit, LOCUS President Chris Leinberger shared this alarming statistic for the U.S.: 'For every 1% of population growth, we’ve seen land use consumption jump 6-8%.' Chuck Marohn and Peter Calthorpe’s Summit presentations also provided rich analysis and evidence that the transportation infrastructure and sprawling development patterns driving this exponential growth in land consumption threaten both the economic and environmental sustainability of our state. "

People enjoying a swing set in St. Tammany Parish (Source:

The Times-Picayune - APR 2018

"St. Tammany Parish has roughly 22,500 more people living there than it did eight years ago. And people continue to move into the parish.

That latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates show St. Tammany’s population was up 1.4 percent in July 2017 compared with the year prior. Last year was the seventh consecutive year of population growth for the parish.

Much of that growth is thanks to new residents who continue to move into St. Tammany at a healthy clip. Those moving into the parish outpaced those moving out by more than 2,500 people in 2017. By comparison, St. Tammany’s population is almost two-thirds that of Orleans Parish."

A map of the study area in St. Tammany Parish. (Source: The Advocate)

The New Orleans Advocate - DEC 2015

"St. Tammany Parish has a choice in how it confronts inevitable growth: It can allow continued suburban sprawl, eating up more and more of the rural land that attracted many residents to the parish, or it can create centers where people can live, work and play in a relatively small area, a panel of experts from the Urban Land Institute said at a public meeting.

The panelists called the latter approach the 'village in the woods' pattern — one that could create the equivalent of 25 Covington-like centers — and urged parish leaders to embrace it."

A wetland in Indiana, U.S. (Source: Derek Jenson, Encyclopedia Britannica)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - 2020

"Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. Water saturation (hydrology) largely determines how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities living in and on the soil. Wetlands may support both aquatic and terrestrial species. The prolonged presence of water creates conditions that favor the growth of specially adapted plants (hydrophytes) and promote the development of characteristic wetland (hydric) soils."

"Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville" (Source:

The Times-Picayune and The New Orleans Advocate - JAN 2020

"A proposal to build a hotel and conference center in Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville has yet to receive a public vetting — that comes Wednesday night — but is already generating controversy among some north shore residents and environmentalists.

Opponents have cited several concerns, ranging from the prospect of more development at the 2,800-acre park on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and the lack of local input in planning to the specter that the proposed resort will eventually include a gambling casino."

Logo for The New Orleans Advocate and The Times-Picayune

The Times-Picayune - MAr 2012

"Land was chosen and a road was developed, but the grocery store was never built after the Army Corps of Engineers changed the wetlands mitigation rules.

The deal fell victim to stringent new requirements by the Army Corps of Engineers that forces developers to pay more to offset the loss of wetlands in new construction projects. And with much of St. Tammany Parish -- even the acres of pine forest that appear high and dry to the naked eye -- classified as wetlands by the corps, local leaders fear the tough new restrictions will stifle growth for years to come.”

Converted Wetlands (Source: USDA)

USDA - NOV 1995

"Wetlands occur in many forms, including forested swamps, deep and shallow marshes, bogs, and prairie potholes. Some wetlands such as deepwater swamps are always wet, while others, such as bottomland swamps, dry out in certain seasons. These different types of wetlands have important functions; they protect shorelines, shelter rare and endangered species of plants and animals, and are used for recreation and education.

Historically, wetlands were thought to be valuable only as sources of peat and fossil fuels, as sites for fishing and hunting, or as places to drain for farmland. After wetland scientists and natural resource managers began to study these vital areas, they discovered that wetlands have significant economic and ecological importance."

Scholarly Research

Map of wetland impoundments (1985). (Source: Day et al.)

Day, Holtz, and Day (Environmental Management) - 1990

"We inventoried wetland impoundments in the Louisiana, USA, coastal zone from the late 1900s to 1985. Historically, impoundment of wetlands for reclamation resulted in direct wetland loss after levees (dikes) failed and the impounded area was permanently flooded, reverting not to wetland, but to open-water habitat. A current management approach is to surround wetlands by levees and water control structures, a practice termed semi-impoundment marsh management. The purpose of this semi-impoundment is to retard saltwater intrusion and reduce water level fluctuations in an attempt to reduce wetland loss, which is a serious problem in coastal Louisiana. In order to quantify the total impounded area, we used historic data and high-altitude infrared photography to map coastal impoundments. Our goal was to produce a documented inventory of wetlands intentionally impounded by levees in the coastal zone of Louisiana in order to provide a benchmark for further research."

St. Tammany parish and urbanization. (Source: UNO)

Martinez et al. (University of New Orleans) - 2015

"Wetlands in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin have declined dramatically since 1982 due to a variety of causes such as urbanization and coastal erosion. Although natural processes have contributed to some of this loss, much of it can be attributed to human activities. Some of the wetland losses can be directly traced to dredging or filling of these areas... The Florida Parishes, which include East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Livingston, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington Parish, have experienced an accelerated population growth during the past 18 years. Residential/urban land use grew by over 105 percent between 1982 and 2000 with most of the development occurring in Livingston and St. Tammany Parishes."

Population changes and range of cypress. (Source: McCauley et al.)

McCauley, Jenkins, Quintana-Ascencio (Wetlands) - DEC 2012

"Urbanization is a leading cause of species loss in the United States because of habitat destruction and fragmentation. Wetlands can be affected by urbanization and the condition of wetlands can be compared across land use categories. Cypress domes are isolated wetlands dominated by cypress (Taxodium distichum) and often remain in urban areas. The purpose of this study was to quantify the effects of urbanization on cypress dome number, size and spatial pattern through two decades of rapid urbanization in Orlando, Florida, a large city in the southeastern US. Over 3,000 cypress domes, in a region typical of urban growth in the cypress range, were identified in images from 1984. Over a 20-year period, 26 % were destroyed or degraded (i.e., no longer cypress-dominated) and almost half in man- aged forests were degraded, destroyed, or became surrounded by urban or agricultural land uses."

"Job Growth in St. Tammany Parish" (Source: Varisco)

"Urbanization would appear on the surface a natural course of creation by humans. Cities grow with populations; the idea seems clear yet there is more than just a growth in population that lies behind each unique city expansion. St. Tammany Parish, a suburb parish of New Orleans, Louisiana, that has its own distinct history like many other counties in the United States... Early growth in St. Tammany Parish was slow; however, through a multitude of factors, it has become the fastest growing parish in the state and has the capability to become the most populous parish in the state if it maintains current growth patterns. This makes it an ideal choice for study using digital technology and census data. Both approaches have been masterfully approached by a variety of scientists and researchers to treat an abundance of issues and problems."

Map of parcels (Source: Gunter et al.)

Gunter et al.

"St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, has experienced tremendous urbanization, resulting in the loss of timberland. This study's objectives were to develop a model using parish-level data that estimates the probability of urban development in a pine or mixed forest parcel, and to identify the parcels most likely to be developed. The geographic data sets used include satellite imagery from 1981 and 1993, U.S. Census data, population growth estimates from the St. Tammany Parish Government, and road coverages. Logistic regression was used to develop a model that predicts the probability of urban development. Population density, distance to the nearest state or federal highway, distance to the access points to New Orleans, and distance to the nearest interstate interchange all significantly influenced the probability that a parcel would be developed."

"U.S. population density from 1960–2015." (Source: Faulkner)

Faulkner (Urban Ecosystems) - 2004

"The exponential increase in population has fueled a significant demographic shift: 60% of the Earth’s population will live in urban areas by 2030. While this population growth is significant in its magnitude, the ecological footprint of natural resource consumption and use required to sustain urban populations is even greater. The land use and cover changes accompanying urbanization...impacts natural ecosystems at multiple spatial scales. ... As urban ecosystems become the predominant human condition, there is a critical need for data specific to urban forested wetlands in order to better understand the role of these ecosystems on the landscape."


Pontchartrain Basin land use in 1993 (Source: Handley et al., 2001).

Pontchartrain Conservancy- feb 2006

"The greater Pontchartrain Basin includes a watershed extending southward from central Mississippi to the distant wetlands at the mouth of the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana. In this report, “Pontchartrain Basin” refers to the area of the basin within Louisiana, which includes all of the area in Louisiana, east of the Mississippi River excluding West Feliciana Parish. The Pontchartrain Basin has been divided into four sub-basins to analyze the baseline conditions, impairments and restoration needs of each. The objective of the report is to present a comprehensive habitat management plan that will direct progress towards restoring the historic form and function of the Pontchartrain Basin habitats."

"Road crossings interrupt urban streams" (Source: CWP)

Center for watershed protection - dec 2006

"Wetlands provide important ecological services that contribute to watershed functions, most notably in pollutant removal, flood attenuation, groundwater recharge and discharge, shoreline protection, and wildlife habitat. The benefit of wetland ecological services generally increases as total wetland cover increases in a watershed. Numerous researchers have quantified the economic benefits provided by wetlands in a watershed. When wetlands are lost or degraded by land development, these services must often be replaced by costly water treatment and flood control infrastructure. Given the many watershed services wetlands provide, wetland conservation and restoration should be an integral part of a comprehensive local watershed management strategy."

"A bumblebee on milkweed." (Source: WHC)

Wildlife Habitat Council - 2018

"Healthy habitats are necessary for plants and animals to survive and thrive. One measure of the health of a habitat is the degree to which it is isolated from other habitats by land management practices or development, commonly referred to as fragmentation. Fragmentation is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity across the planet, as it can prevent species from moving to hunt, mate, disperse to new areas or escape predators. Fragmentation can make natural communities more vulnerable to invasive species and restrict the ability of specialized species to thrive.

When corporate landowners engage in ecological connectivity initiatives to reduce fragmentation, they are contributing to landscape-scale efforts that have benefits beyond the corporate footprint and across the entire ecoregion."

Report area of the source material. (Source: Pontchartrain Conservancy)

Pontchartrain Conservancy - 2011

"The north shore of Lake Pontchartrain is currently one of the fastest growing areas of Louisiana. Populations in St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parishes have risen by 36,300 (≈19%) and 16,200 (≈16%) people, respectively, between 2000 and 2008 (US Census Bureau). Population growth increased after Hurricane Katrina with 11,000 people moving to each St Tammany and Tangipahoa Parishes. Between 1982 and 2000 urbanization was responsible for the loss of approximately 5,400 acres of marsh, 6,700 acres of wetland forest, 30,630 acres of upland forest and 5,000 acres of scrub/shrub habitat in St. Tammany Parish. "

"Volunteers keeping vegetation at bay." (Source: Jane Jackson)

Land Trust Alliance - 2018

"Conservation easements can be an important way for corporations to address the challenges of surplus properties and other corporate landownerships. They furnish a number of benefits, including providing potential tax breaks as a charitable donation and a stewardship partner in the land trust that holds the easement. At the same time, easements allow corporations to be civic leaders by promoting clean air, water, wildlife habitat, recreation or other conservation values important to communities. Unfortunately, many corporations are unaware of the many benefits easements bring, and, at the same time, many land trust partners are unfamiliar with working with corporations. This publication is designed to provide critical information about the technical issues involved in placing an easement on corporate land and what corporations and land trusts need to know to develop a solid working relationship."

Green walls (Source: WHC)

Wildlife Habitat Council - 2017

"Nature is the original engineer. It harnesses solar energy for food, heals itself through growth, and has a wide variety of security systems to protect against predators and other invaders. Many biological-engineered solutions are species-specific, but at a macro level nature also engineers solutions that benefit a wide range of species, including humans. Today, when nature is a key component of a human- engineered solution, it is called green infrastructure.

There are numerous strategies that can be used for integrating green infrastructure into commercial, industrial and other corporate landscapes. While the specific techniques, project scale and designs will vary from location to location, the principles of green infrastructure are universally applicable. Therefore, green infrastructure is remarkably versatile as a solution for corporate landscapes."

"The spectrum of sustainability concepts." (Source: Wilkinson)

Sara J. Wilkinson and Sarah L. Sayce - 2015

"The built environment in general and property development in particular, have significant impacts on all aspects of sustainability, economic, social and environmental. The development process impacts on resource consumption, energy use, biodiversity, water consumption and water course patterns, waste production and the physical design and impact of urban spaces. This book examines the impacts that property development has at each stage of the process and identifies ways in which developers can reduce negative impacts and furthermore, how they can contribute positively to mitigate issues facing society such as climate change."

Tchefuncte Marshes tract (Source: PC)

Pontchartrain Conservancy - 2011

"There are efforts on the Northshore for restoration, conservation and land acquisition to protect the important ecosystems and habitats in the region. However, further action on the Northshore is needed now. With expanding populations causing pressure for development and synergistic anthropogenic and natural activities stressing natural ecosystems, people must begin to think about conservation and restoration as a necessary part of community planning. The Northshore has a chance to include the environment and natural areas as part of community and urban planning in order to simultaneously expand the population and economy and protect the natural areas that attracted people to the area in the first place. The Northshore community has the unique opportunity to consider natural areas as it expands and arrive at solutions that work for both human and natural populations and to consider both as funding opportunities arise."

Title page of the report.

University of new orleans - oct 1975

"This study attempt to gather information from various sources concerning wetlands and their relationship to metropolitan areas and to present a decision-making framework in which this information could be used to make rational wetland development decisions."

Topics in this study include: Louisiana wetlands, land use in metropolitan wetlands, the impacts of urban development on wetlands, the economic valuation of wetlands, construction and maintenance costs in wetlands, projections of future land use, and a decision framework for urban wetlands development decisions.

Master Plan Map (Source: CPRA)

NASEM - 2016

"This viewer displays the results from CPRA’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan and provides resources to reduce risk. Information includes: future land change, storm surge flood risk, coastal vegetation, and social vulnerability. Also included are the state’s proposed restoration, structural protection, and nonstructural risk reduction projects to help make communities safer. This information is for coastal planning purposes, and is not appropriate for site-specific decision making."

"An urban sustainability roadmap." (Source: Committee generated)

NASEM - 2016

"Cities have experienced an unprecedented rate of growth in the last decade. More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas, with the U.S. percentage at 80 percent. Cities have captured more than 80 percent of the globe’s economic activity and offered social mobility and economic prosperity to millions by clustering creative, innovative, and educated individuals and organizations. Clustering populations, however, can compound both positive and negative conditions, with many modern urban areas experiencing growing inequality, debility, and environmental degradation.

The spread and continued growth of urban areas presents a number of concerns for a sustainable future, particularly if cities cannot adequately address the rise of poverty, hunger, resource consumption, and biodiversity loss in their borders."

Scene of a wetland. (Source: ELI)

Environmental Law Institute - MAR 2008

"America’s local governments know their lands and are familiar with their critical role as the primary regulators of land use and development activities. Many local governments also know their waters and wetlands, and most have authority to regulate land uses in order to conserve and protect these important community assets. While many publications assist local governing boards with land use planning and zoning, this publication compiles the scientific literature on wetland buffers (the lands adjacent to wetland areas) and identifies the techniques used and legislative choices made by local governments across the United States to protect these lands."

The Tammany Trace trail (Source: Michael A. Stern)

Urban land Institute - DEC 2015

"The impacts, both direct and indirect, of multiple disasters have forced St. Tammany to reexamine its vision for the future and its role in the larger region, specifically with regard to resilience. The parish has engaged in several planning efforts using scientific data, stakeholder engagement, and collaborative efforts with several federal, state, and local agencies to identify specific initiatives, particularly in relation to vulnerable populations. Those agencies will direct the efforts required to prepare and adapt for future growth, climate change and sea-level rise, and other shocks and stressors that affect communities. St. Tammany Parish and its partners are prepared not only to commence the project to protect the community, but also to engage it to be an integral part in a resilient future."

Sustainable Development Goals (2015). (Source: UN)

Wildlife Habitat Council - 2019

"The power of a better, more sustainable community is at the core of the [Sustainable Development Goals]. Good health, no poverty, zero hunger and quality education are the fundamental building blocks of a better life. Decent jobs, sound infrastructure and innovative industry contribute to prosperity, while peace and equity ensure that everyone can realize their full potential. Nature is integrated through every aspect of this future community. It provides clean air and water, resources for both food and materials, habitat for biodiversity, and safe and accessible places in which to learn and recreate."

"An endangered Mexican black bear." (Source: Santiago Gibert Isern)

Wildlife Habitat Council - 2017

"Across the world, the regulatory frameworks that govern species protection and recovery differ from authority to authority, but contain many common approaches informed by conservation science. These approaches are primarily focused on creation or protection of critical habitat, and curtailing activities that impact life cycle and breeding success.Such approaches can lead to conflicts if business operations are impacted, timelines elongated and budgets affected. The most common business complaint about endangered species rules is the uncertainty that implementation of such regulations introduce.

Many businesses have shown leadership in this arena, however, innovating to adapt to the presence of imperiled species on their lands and pivoting to play critical roles in species recovery."

A wetlands project. (Source: WHC)

Wildlife Habitat Council - 2020

"Wetlands projects attempt to manage and enhance existing wetland habitat or create new wetland areas.

Wetlands projects vary in size, but are usually limited by existing conditions that are conducive to the soil saturation or inundation needed for wetland habitat, or by the resources and space available to create those conditions.

Several factors will impact which species a wetland will benefit, including its size, whether it includes open water, the water’s depth, and whether it is permanent or seasonable in nature."