Wetland regulatory programs
With the historic loss of wetlands in the state, people who work in wetlands recognize the increasing importance of protecting them. DNR’s Waterway and Wetland Program provides more information about Wisconsin laws that protect wetlands and other water resources.
State wetland permits
Anyone planning a project that proposes wetland impacts will need a permit from the DNR approving the proposed wetland impact before proceeding with the project. The department has both general permits and individual permits available. Recent changes allow the DNR to issue general permits for new catagories of activities. General permits are currently available for wetland restoration activities, and wetland discharges up to 10,000 square feet as a result of industrial, commercial or residential development. We will update our Web site and application materials as other general permits are issued.
General permits are currently available for wetland restoration activities, and wetland discharges up to 10,000 square feet as a result of industrial, commercial or residential development. General Permits are granted for projects that 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 check to see that the plans and location match the general permit specifications, and if so grants the permit in 30 days. In special circumstances where the review shows that the general permit conditions are not sufficient to ensure the wetland discharge will cause only minimal adverse environmental effects, DNR may inform an applicant that an individual permit is needed to allow detailed review.
For wetland disturbance activities where no exemption or general permit is available, an individual permit is required. Because these projects are not pre–approved designs, a more detailed application is required. As part of the individual permit process applicants are REQUIRED to have a pre–application meeting with the department to discuss the purpose and scope of the proposed project and the preliminary scope of alternatives the applicant must consider that will avoid and minimize wetland impacts. Compensatory wetland mitigation is REQUIRED for all individual permits. Individual permits require a 30–day comment period of which people are notified by the department website, a newspaper notice and mailing to interested parties. During the comment period, an informational hearing may be requested. DNR staff conducts the informational hearing to gather observations and facts from others to consider in addition to its own data in making to decision. A permit is granted for projects when the DNR concludes from this process that no significant adverse impacts to wetlands will occur. DNR staff routinely advise applicants on project modifications to reduce impacts and gain approval. Permit decisions are subject to appeal for review by an administrative law judge within 30–days of the decision.
- Section 281.36. Wis. Stats. establishes the state authority for granting wetland permits.
- NR 103 establishes the water quality standards for wetlands.
- NR 299 explains the procedures for certifying projects that impact wetlands.
- NR 300 describes the time limits and fees for waterway and wetland permits.
- NR 350 describes the requirements for the wetland compensatory mitigation program.
- NR 353 establishes a streamlined process to review regulated activities associated with the restoration of former wetlands, the enhancement of degraded wetlands, and the maintenance or management of existing wetlands.
- Contact information
- For more information regarding Wetland Regulatory Programs, please contact:
- Cami Peterson
Waterway and Wetland Policy Coordinator