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Protect
wetlands through land use planning, acquisition and wetland protection laws.
Restore
wetlands to improve wetland health and function and by re-establishing destroyed wetlands.
Explore
wetlands by getting your feet wet and learning about their wonders.
Wetlands

Landowner’s enjoy the wetlands restored on their property

Wetland restoration permits

People planning a wetland restoration project will likely need to apply for and obtain a waterway and wetland permit. Below are the suggested steps to follow and the available permits that are specifically designed for voluntary wetland restoration projects. Note: Compensatory Wetland Mitigation projects and wetland disturbance projects not associated with wetland restorations are not eligible for the permit options below. Those type of projects require wetland permits.

Local and federal permits may also be required for wetland restoration projects. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website offers information on the federal wetland restoration permits available and the local county or municipality where the project is located.

Background on wetland restoration and contacts for technical and funding assistance for wetland restorations and an award winning Wetland Restoration Handbook for Wisconsin Landowners are also available.

Determine permit required

This is a text version of our wetland restoration interactive question and answer module to help you understand if you need a permit for your project. If you are seeing this message, you currently have JavaScript disabled or are in compatibility mode while using Internet Explorer. This text version is here to help you understand if you need a permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for your project, and if so, which one. Please go through and answer each question. This will help you determine which permit you will need.

Question 1 :

Is your project sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR)?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 09.

If your answer is "No” go to Question 2.

Question 2 :

Is the purpose of the project wetland conservation? In other words will the project result in the re-establishment or restoration of drained wetlands, enhancement of existing degraded wetlands or creation of new wetlands?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 3.

You've answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland restoration general permit. You will need to apply for an individual permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

Question 3 :

Do wetlands already exist at the site?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 4.

If your answer is "No” go to Question 5.

You've answered I don't know

If your answer is “I don't know,”:

Please visit the DNR's wetland mapping page to learn more about identifying wetlands on your property.



Question 4 :

Is the site and wetlands:

If your answer is "Planted in agricultural crops or dominated by invasive or early successional species” go to Question 5.

You've answered dominated by an undisturbed wetland plant community

If your answer is “dominated by an undisturbed wetland plant community,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland conservation general permit. You will need to apply for an individual permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



You've answered I don't know.

If your answer is “I don't know,”:

Please visit the DNR's invasive species page to learn more about potential invasive species on your property.

Question 5 :

Will the project include one or more of the following activities?

Only the activities listed below, which are designed and constructed according to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field office technical practice standards 378- Pond, 410- Grade Stabilization Structure, 638- Water & Sediment Control Basin and 657-Wetland Restoration, are eligible for the general permit. See the USDA Field Office Technical Guide to find the specifications for each of these standards.

  • Removing or disabling a section of drain tile.
  • Disabling surface drains by filling of the ditch downstream of the drainage system to be altered.
  • Constructing dikes, embankments and low berms.
  • Removing vegetation or post-European settlement deposition, including shallow scrapes, submerged islands and interconnected open water areas.
  • Altering the hydrology of an area by removing pumps, breaching structures or manipulating water control structures.
  • Introducing native plants and managing existing exotic or invasive plant species.
  • Installing and maintaining monitoring devices such as gauges and water level recording devices.

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 6.

You've answered No

If your answer is “No,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland conservation general permit. You will need to apply for an individual permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



Question 6 :

Are there any navigable waters with prior stream history?

You've answered Yes

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a general permit. You will need to apply for an individual permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



If your answer is "No” go to Question 7.

You've answered I don't know.

If your answer is “I don't know,”:

You may reference the original government surveys to assist in a stream history determination or contact your local Water Management Specialist.

Question 7 :

Will the project impact a cold water resource or block fish spawning to existing habitat areas? For example are you constructing a dam or ditch plug of fill across the navigable water, such that water will be impounded and migration of fish would be blocked up stream of the structure?

You've answered Yes

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland conservation general permit. You will need to apply for an individual permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



If your answer is "No” go to Question 8.

Question 8 :

Are you proposing a dam, berm, dike or embankment that is:

  • Less than 2 feet in height as measured from the natural ground level and impounds less than 50 acre feet of water
  • Less than 6 feet in height as measured from the natural ground level and designed by a professional engineer registered in the State of Wisconsin or the project is being submitted by county, state or federal agency

You've answered Yes

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for a wetland conservation general permit. Please visit the General permits page to apply.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



You've answered No

If your answer is “No,”:

If answer is No and you are proposing an activity other than a dam, berm, dike or embankment you may be eligible for a wetland conservation general permit. Please visit the General permits page to apply for the general permit titled "Wetland Conservation – Not federal". *Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.

If answer is No, and you are proposing a dam, berm, dike or embankment, you do not qualify for a general permit. You will need to apply for an individual permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.


Question 9 :

Is the purpose of the project wetland conservation? In other words will the project result in the re-establishment or restoration of drained wetlands, enhancement of existing degraded wetlands or creation of new wetlands?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 10.

You've answered No

If your answer is “No,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland conservation general permit. You will need to apply for an individual permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



Question 10 :

Will the project include one or more of the following activities?

Only the activities listed below, which are designed and constructed according to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field office technical practice standards 338- Prescribed Burning, 378- Pond, 394- Firebreak, 410- Grade Stabilization Structure, 500- Obstruction Removal, 572-Spoil Spreading, 587-Structure for Water Control, 638- Water & Sediment Control Basin and 657-Wetland Restoration, are eligible for the general permit. See the USDA Field Office Technical Guide to find the specifications for each of these standards.

  • Drain tile alteration or removal by disabling a section of drain tile or adding a water control structure within the existing tile line in the project area.
  • Disabling artificial surface drains by filling lengths of the ditch downstream of the drainage system to be altered. Ditch fills may be added upstream of ditch plugs or ditch fills for the entire length of the ditch. Ditch plugs may be eliminated if the proposed ditch is completely filled with earth.
  • Constructing dams or water control structures that include dikes, embankments and low berms to impede surface water drainage or runoff.
  • Altering the hydrology of an area by removing pumps, breaching structures, such as dikes, or re-routing artificial drainage features or manipulation of water control structures.
  • Remove soil and vegetation or post European settlement deposition that has accumulated over historic wetland soils.
  • Introducing native plants and managing existing exotic or invasive plant species.
  • Installing and maintaining monitoring devices such as gauges and water level recording devices.

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 11.

You've answered No

If your answer is “No,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland conservation general permit. You will need to apply for an individual permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



Question 11 :

Does the project involve activities in navigable waters with prior stream history?

You've answered Yes

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland conservation general permit. You will need to apply for an individual wetland disturbance permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



If your answer is "No” go to Question 12.

Question 12 :

Will your project include the construction of a dam, dike, embankment, or low berm that is:

  • Less than or equal to 6 feet in height as measured from the natural ground level.
  • Less than 25 feet in height as measured from the natural ground level with the maximum storage capacity less than 50 acre-feet.

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 13.

You've answered No

If your answer is “No,”:

If answer is No and you are proposing an activity other than a dam, berm, dike or embankment proceed to question 13.

If answer is No, and you are proposing a dam, berm, dike or embankment, you do not qualify for a wetland conservation general permit. You will need to apply for an individual permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



Question 13 :

Will the project result in significant adverse impacts to endangered or threatened species, or to historical or cultural resources?

You've answered Yes

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland conservation general permit. You will need to apply for an individual permit.*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



You've answered No

If your answer is “No,”:

You may qualify for the statewide wetland conservation general permit. Please visit the General permits page to apply for the general permit titled "Wetland Conservation – Federal".*Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register for one prior to proceeding.



Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Field Office Technical Guide Standard Conservation Practices & Tools

Wetland Conservation projects should be designed and constructed according to the following Wisconsin NRCS-s Field Office Technical Guide Standard Conservation Practices: 657 − Wetland Restoration, 638 − Water and Sediment Control, 410 − Grade Stabilization, and 378 − Pond. Visit the Wisconsin NRCS website and follow these steps to download and print the most current version of the Standards:

  1. Select Wisconsin on the map.
  2. Select the county where the project is located.
  3. Select Section IV.
  4. Select Conservation Practices.
  5. Scroll down the list to find the Standard you are looking for.

The Wisconsin NRCS office also has helpful engineering tools and standard drawings and help sheets. The NRCS standards listed above are designed for use by non–engineers and can help with wetland restoration project design. Below are a few examples of standard NRCS designs.

General permit, MOU and other tools for NRCS, FWS and DNR -sponsored projects

Sample drawings and other materials

Last revised: Tuesday December 06 2016