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August 7, 2012

Proposal to be topic of August 16 public hearing

MADISON - A proposed general permit to streamline the wetland and waterway permitting process for local government highway, bridge and culvert improvement projects impacting wetlands and waterways is now out for public comment. The proposal also is the topic of an Aug. 16 public informational hearing in Madison, state wetland/waterway officials say.

The informational hearing will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. in Room G09 at the State Natural Resources Building, otherwise known as GEF 2, 101 S. Webster Street, in Madison.

The proposed statewide general permit -- or "GP" -- is the second of its kind required under new laws passed earlier this year by state lawmakers. It would enable local governments with simple transportation projects resulting in minor impacts to waterways and the unavoidable filling of up to 10,000 square feet of wetland -- just under one-quarter of an acre -- to get their permit decision more quickly if the project meets the standards and conditions in the general permit, according to Maureen Millmann, transportation general permit coordinator for DNR.

"The proposed general permit is tailored to the specific elements that local government must address in designing small highway and bridge projects to address both public transportation needs and environmental requirements. This proposed general permit will simplify the process," she says.

Right now, local government transportation officials proposing projects that involve wetland fill must seek an individual permit and lengthier environmental review. Those same projects could also require a separate review process concerning impacts to waterways, she says.

The new general permit identifies the location, design, and construction standards and other conditions any project must meet to qualify for the general permit, and to ensure that minimal environmental effects occur. Once in effect, the statewide general permit will be valid for 5 years. When local government officials apply for coverage under the general permit, DNR is required to issue a decision within 30 days.

Projects that involve more than 10,000 square feet of wetland fill or do not meet the GP standards and conditions will continue to require an individual permit, which has a longer process time and a greater level of environmental review.

DNR has also prepared an environmental assessment (EA) to consider the environmental effects of the GP. The EA is also available for public review and comment. The GP is not expected to result in significant environmental impacts, and the department has made a preliminary determination that an environmental impact statement is not required for issuance of the GP.

The proposed statewide general wetland permit and environmental assessment, area available on the Waterway & Wetland Permits: Wetland Disturbance page of the DNR website . Public comments are being accepted through Sept. 6, 2012. For more information or to submit written comments on the draft general permit or environmental assessment, contact Maureen Millmann, WDNR Southeast Region, 2300 N. Martin Luther King Jr Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53212, or by phone at 414-263-8613.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Maureen Millmann 414-263-8613; Dave Siebert 608-264-6048

Last Revised: Tuesday, August 07, 2012

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