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Waterway protectionWetland disturbance

This page ONLY describes PERMITTING requirements for activities that are KNOWN TO IMPACT wetlands.

Wetlands

Wetlands

See Wisconsin Wetlands for general information about wetlands including the functions and values of wetlands, wetland types, wetland mapping, and restoration and management.

Grading, filling, removing or disturbing soil in a low area or wetland

Wetlands are regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and by local counties, cities and villages.

The excavating or placement of any material in low areas or wetlands requires a DNR permit. The DNR has both general permits and individual permits available. DNR reviews your project to determine if it complies with the requirements of section 281.36, Wis. Statutes, and NR 299 and NR 103, Wisconsin Administrative Code. State regulations require avoidance of wetland fill if possible, so in your application you will need to demonstrate that you cannot avoid or reduce wetland impacts, and that your project will not have significant adverse impacts on wetland functions and values.

Permit types

General Permits

There are general permits available for discharges to wetlands. Each general permit allows applicants to apply for wetland impacts up to the amount allowed under the particular general permit that fits your project if it will meet all of the design, construction and location specifications set by the statewide general permit. To qualify for a general permit, all required application items need to be submitted elements. DNR reviews general permit applications within 30 days and notifies an applicant if any required items are missing. Once all required items have been submitted, DNR staff will check to see that all eligibility criteria for the general permit are met and if so, grants the permit.

To apply for one of these general permits, visit General Permits application to apply for a wetland disturbance general permit. *Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register [exit DNR] for one prior to proceeding.

Individual Permits

For those projects that do not meet the standards to be eligible for a general permit, individual permits are available. A pre-application meeting with DNR Water Management staff is required for all wetland individual permit applications. The meeting will help you design an approvable project and complete your application. Use our Pre-Application Meeting Checklist [PDF] to gather information that will ensure the meeting is projective as possible.

Wetland compensatory mitigation is also required for all wetland individual permits that are approved. Individual permits require a 30-day comment period during which people are notified by the department website and a newspaper notice. During the comment period, an informational hearing may be requested. A permit is granted for projects when the department concludes that no significant adverse impacts to wetlands will occur. Department staff routinely advise applicants on project modifications to reduce impacts and gain approval. Permit decisions are subject to appeal within 30 days of the decision.

To apply for one of these permits, visit Individual Permits application to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. *Please note: WAMS ID and password needed to apply. If you do not have a WAMS ID, you must register [exit DNR] for one prior to proceeding.

Publications explaining DNR’s review process

Determine permit required

This is a text version of our wetland disturbance 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.

Before you apply, you will need to figure out where the boundaries of the wetland are located. Refer to the locating wetlands web site to learn more.

Question 1 :

Is the purpose of the project to access, construct, reconstruct, repair, or maintain a utility facility in or over a wetland?

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

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

Question 2 :

Does the project involve the construction, reconstruction or maintenance of a highway, bridge, arch or culvert as part of a municipal public transportation project?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 9.

If your answer is "No” go to Question 3.

Question 3 :

Will your project:

If your answer is "Impact less than 10,000 sq. feet of wetlands” go to Question 4.

You've answered Be located in the City of Superior Special Area Management Plan (SAMP).

If your answer is “Be located in the City of Superior Special Area Management Plan (SAMP),”:

wetland disturbance permits are coordinated through the City of Superior please review the City of Superior’s website and contact the Environmental Regulatory Coordinator.

Darienne McNamara
Department of Public Works
1316 N. 14th Street
Superior, WI 54880
Phone: (715) 395-7506

You've answered Impact more than 10,000 sq. feet of wetland and not in the City of Superior (SAMP).

If your answer is “Impact more than 10,000 sq. feet of wetland and not in the City of Superior (SAMP),”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 4 :

Is the purpose of your project residential, industrial or commercial development?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 5.

If your answer is "No” go to Question 13.

Question 5 :

Will you be impacting wetland for any of the following reasons?

  • To create a buildable lot to be sold or developed at a later time
  • To create a stormwater treatment facility such as pond, infiltration basin or swale

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 24.

Question 6 :

Will your project impact any of the following types of wetlands?

  • Great Lakes ridge and swale complexes
  • Interdunal wetlands
  • Coastal plain marshes
  • Boreal rich fens
  • Calcareous fens
  • Emergent marshes containing wild rice (N/A for highway projects)
  • Sphagnum bogs south of STH 16 and STH 21 west of Lake Winnebago and on USH 151 east of Lake Winnebago

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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,”:

Please review the Wetland communities of Wisconsin page to help you determine if your project will impact listed wetlands.

Question 7 :

Are you able to completely avoid the wetland with the construction?

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

No permit is needed from the DNR but you should check with the local zoning office to ensure that you are completely avoiding the wetland with the construction.

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

Question 8 :

Have you minimized the wetland impacts?

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for a Wetland Disturbance General Permit for UTILITY FACILITIES. Please review the General Permit Checklist and then visit the General permits page to apply for a Wetland disturbance - Utility structure general 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 do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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.

*Please note: For transportation please contact your Transportation Liaison. To find your transportation liaison please visit the transportation projects page.

Question 9 :

Is the project being carried out under the direction and supervision of a city, town, village or county?

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 disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 :

Is the purpose of your project to construct a new public or municipal road or to construct a new crossing, for a public or municipal road, over a navigable waterway where there was previously no crossing?

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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.

Please contact your Transportation Liaison for further information on proceeding. To find your transportation liaison please visit the transportation projects page.

If your answer is "No” go to Question 21.

Question 11 :

Is the purpose of the project to access, construct, reconstruct, repair or maintain a sanitary sewer, storm sewer or water main?

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 the project result in less than all of the following:

  • 10,000 sq. ft (0.23 acres) of permanent wetland fill
  • 2 acres or less of temporary wetland impacts associated with underground utility placement, repair, maintenance or removal
  • 5 acres or less of temporary wetland impacts associated with construction matting
  • 10,000 sq. ft. (0.23 acres) of forested wetland clearing

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 disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 :

Is the purpose of the project to construct, reconstruct or maintain a recreational structure or facility?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 15.

If your answer is "No” go to Question 16.

Question 14 :

Does the project involve the construction of a trail?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 15.

If your answer is "No” go to Question 6.

Question 15 :

Will the project be constructed to:

  • Maintain wetland hydrology in the remaining wetland complex. For example by allowing water to flow under the trail.
  • Limit the clearing of vegetation to no more than 25% of the width of the trail or 2 feet on each side of the trail, whichever is greater.

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 27.

You've answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 16 :

Is the purpose of the project to repair, reconstruct or maintain a dam?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 17.

You've answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 17 :

Is the dam regulated by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) or will the project involve the installation of hydroelectric facilities?

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 18.

Question 18 :

Are you the owner of the dam and do you own the land upon which the dam is located, have an easement allowing the dam at the existing site, or do you have some other legal authorization for the placement of the dam at the location?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 19.

You've answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 19 :

Has the DNR issued a permit for the dam or is the dam otherwise authorized by law?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 20.

You've answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 use our online mapping tool - Surface Water Data Viewer to locate your dam and then go back and answer this question. If you are unsure of how to use this application, please use our How-to tutorial

Question 20 :

Is the purpose of the project for improving the safety of the dam?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 30.

You've answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 21 :

Will your project impact any of the following types of wetlands?

  • Great Lakes ridge and swale complexes
  • Interdunal wetlands
  • Coastal plain marshes
  • Boreal rich fens
  • Calcareous fens
  • Emergent marshes containing wild rice (N/A for highway projects)
  • Sphagnum bogs south of STH 16 and STH 21 west of Lake Winnebago and on USH 151 east of Lake Winnebago

If your answer is "No” go to Question 22.

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 review the Wetland Communities of Wisconsin page to help you determine if your project will impact listed wetlands.

Question 22 :

Are you able to completely avoid the wetland with the construction?

If your answer is "No” go to Question 23.

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

No permit is needed from the DNR but you should check with your State Wetland ID staff or your local zoning office to ensure that you are completely avoiding the wetland within the construction

Question 23 :

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for a Wetland Disturbance General Permit for MUNICIPAL HIGHWAY BRIDGES, ARCHES, OR CULVERTS. Please review the General Permit Checklist AND THEN visit the General Permits page to apply for a Wetland disturbance - Municipal highway bridges, arches, culverts general 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 do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 24 :

Will your project impact any of the following types of wetlands?

  • Great Lakes ridge and swale complexes
  • Interdunal wetlands
  • Coastal plain marshes
  • Boreal rich fens
  • Calcareous fens
  • Emergent marshes containing wild rice (N/A for highway projects)
  • Sphagnum bogs south of STH 16 and STH 21 west of Lake Winnebago and on USH 151 east of Lake Winnebago

If your answer is "No” go to Question 25.

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 review the Wetland Communities of Wisconsin page to help you determine if your project will impact listed wetlands.

Question 25 :

Are you able to completely avoid the wetland with the construction?

If your answer is "No” go to Question 26.

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

No permit is needed from the DNR but you should check with your State Wetland ID staff or your local zoning office to ensure that you are completely avoiding the wetland within the construction

Question 26 :

Have you minimized the wetland impacts?

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for a Wetland Disturbance General Permit for RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL, OR INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT. Please review the General Permit Checklist AND THEN visit the General permits page to apply for a Wetland disturbance - Residential / industrial / commercial development general 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 do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 27 :

Will your project impact any of the following types of wetlands?

  • Great Lakes ridge and swale complexes
  • Interdunal wetlands
  • Coastal plain marshes
  • Boreal rich fens
  • Calcareous fens
  • Emergent marshes containing wild rice (N/A for highway projects)
  • Sphagnum bogs south of STH 16 and STH 21 west of Lake Winnebago and on USH 151 east of Lake Winnebago

If your answer is "No” go to Question 25.

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 review the Wetland Communities of Wisconsin page to help you determine if your project will impact listed wetlands.

Question 28 :

Are you able to completely avoid the wetland with the construction?

If your answer is "No” go to Question 29.

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

No permit is needed from the DNR but you should check with your State Wetland ID staff or your local zoning office to ensure that you are completely avoiding the wetland within the construction

Question 29 :

Have you minimized the wetland impacts?

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for a Wetland Disturbance General Permit for RECREATIONAL DEVELOPMENT. Please review the General Permit Checklist AND THEN visit the General permits page to apply for a Wetland disturbance – Recreational Development general 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 do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 30 :

Will your project impact any of the following types of wetlands?

  • Great Lakes ridge and swale complexes
  • Interdunal wetlands
  • Coastal plain marshes
  • Boreal rich fens
  • Calcareous fens
  • Emergent marshes containing wild rice (N/A for highway projects)
  • Sphagnum bogs south of STH 16 and STH 21 west of Lake Winnebago and on USH 151 east of Lake Winnebago

If your answer is "No” go to Question 25.

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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 review the Wetland Communities of Wisconsin page to help you determine if your project will impact listed wetlands.

Question 31 :

Are you able to completely avoid the wetland with the construction?

If your answer is "No” go to Question 32.

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

No permit is needed from the DNR but you should check with your State Wetland ID staff or your local zoning office to ensure that you are completely avoiding the wetland within the construction

Question 32 :

Have you minimized the wetland impacts?

You've answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for a Wetland Disturbance General Permit for DAM MAINTENANCE REPAIR AND RECONSTRUCTION. Please review the General Permit Checklist AND THEN visit the General permits page to apply for a Wetland disturbance – Dam Maintenance Repair and Reconstruction general 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 do not qualify for a wetland disturbance general permit. You will need to apply for a wetland disturbance individual permit. BEFORE YOU APPLY, please review:

*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.

Additional information

For more information about wetland disturbance permits, see Wetland Regulatory Programs.

If you are impacting a wetland as part of a cranberry bed creation or expansion please visit Cranberry Projects.

Federal government

A permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) may also be required for wetland fill or excavation projects. To determine if an Army Corps permit is required for your project, please contact your local Army Corps Project Manager [exit DNR] for the county where your project is located. They will evaluate your proposal and respond to you separately. See Army Corps St. Paul District [exit DNR] for more information on Corps regulations.

Local governments

Fill and other activities in or near wetlands may also be regulated by county, city or village zoning. Contact your local zoning office for more information.

If grading, filling or other wetland activities is proposed on agricultural lands, contact the appropriate Natural Resources Conservation Service [exit DNR] office.

Wisconsin wetland inventory maps and soils maps can be viewed at most county zoning offices. For incorporated areas -- cities and villages -- contact the City Building Inspector, City Engineer or Village Clerk for that incorporated area. Copies of the Wisconsin Wetland Inventory maps can also be viewed at the DNR Service Center offices, or purchased in printed or digital form (see Wetland Mapping).

Applicable Wisconsin statutes and codes

Contact information
For more information regarding wetland regulatory programs, please contact:
Cami Peterson
Waterway and Wetland Policy Coordinator
Last revised: Wednesday November 05 2014