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wetlands through land use planning, acquisition and wetland protection laws.
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Wetland regulations webinar

A webinar was held on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 to help clarify recent changes to wetland regulations, including artificial and nonfederal wetland exemptions. View the webinar recording:

To begin an exemption request visit:

Wetland permit exemptions

Wisconsin Act 183 (2017) establishes two classes of exemption for projects that will impact wetlands. One is exemption is for “nonfederal wetlands,” which are those that are not subject to federal oversight. The other exemption is for “artificial wetlands,” which are those that have no wetland or stream history prior to August 1, 1991 and have been modified by human activity that changed the landscape.

Review eligibility requirements for wetland permit exemptions

This is a text link version of our Wetland Exemption question and answer module. 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 Wetland, and if so, which one. Please go through and answer each question. This will help you determine which permit you will need.

Question 1 :

Have you received a wetland boundary confirmation for the area in question?

See the decision module at wetland identification to confirm that you have received the correct wetland confirmation for the boundary.

If your answer is "Yes,” go to Question 2.

If your answer is "No, I worked with an assured delineator that does not require a wetland boundary confirmation.,” go to Question 2.

You’ve answered No, I did not get a wetland confirmation completed.

If your answer is “No, I did not get a wetland confirmation completed.,”:

Go to wetland delineation to begin the wetland boundary confirmation process. This information is needed to determine if your project will require permitting.

Question 2 :

Is the wetland you propose to fill an artificial wetland?

Artificial: man made; a landscape feature where hydrophytic vegetation may be present as a result of human modification to the landscape or hydrology and shows no prior wetland or stream history before August 1, 1991.

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

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

Question 3 :

Was the wetland created as a result of mitigation?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

It is not permissible to place fill in a wetland that was created through a mitigation program. Visit wetland mitigation for more information.

If your answer is "No” go to Question 4.

Question 4 :

Does the wetland serve as a fish spawning area or a passage to a fish spawning area?

If your answer is "Yes” go to Question 25.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits. Refer to the artificial wetland exemption checklist to confirm your eligibility and go to the electronic application process to request an artificial exemption confirmation. Be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

Question 5 :

Is the wetland complex adjacent or contiguous to a class I or II trout stream?

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

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

You’ve answered I don’t know.

If your answer is “I don’t know,”:

You may utilize our online mapping tool, Surface Water Data Viewer, to make this determination and go back and answer this question. If you are unsure of how to use this application, please use our How-To tutorial.

Question 6 :

Does the wetland complex consist of 75 percent or more of any of the following wetland types:

Alder thicket, Calcareous fen, Coniferous swamp, Coniferous bog, Floodplain forest, Hardwood swamp, Interdunal wetland, Open bog, Ridge and swale complex, Deep marsh, Sedge meadow

If your answer is "Yes,” go to Question 18.

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

You’ve answered I don’t know.

If your answer is “I don’t know,”:

A private wetland delineator can help you make this determination. If you do not want to make this determination you can answer "yes" to this question to continue with the permitting determination.

Question 7 :

Is the wetland complex located in an urban area?

Urban area: An incorporated area, an area within one-half mile of an incorporated area, or an area that is served by a sewage system.

If your answer is "Yes, the wetland complex is in an urban area,” go to Question 8.

If your answer is "No, the wetland complex is in a rural area,” go to Question 12.

Question 8 :

Will the project be carried out in compliance with applicable storm water management zoning ordinances or WPDES storm water discharge permits?

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

If your answer is "No,” go to Question 19.

Question 9 :

Will the project affect more than 1 acre of wetlands per parcel?

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

If your answer is "No,” go to Question 10.

Question 10 :

Has the United States Army Corps of Engineers determined that the wetland area is a federal water of the United States?

If your answer is "Yes, the wetland is a federal water of the United States.,” go to Question 21.

If your answer is "No, the wetland is NOT a federal water of the United States.,” go to Question 11.

You’ve answered The United States Army Corps of Engineers has not made a jurisdictional determination for the wetland in question..

If your answer is “The United States Army Corps of Engineers has not made a jurisdictional determination for the wetland in question.,”:

A federal jurisdictional determination is needed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to determine if your project would qualify for a state permitting exemption. If this project is time sensitive, you may wish to consider the wetland to be a federal wetland to continue to move forward with the project as expeditiously as possible. If you would like to presume federal wetland status, click “Yes, the wetland is a federal water of the United States”. Otherwise, work with your local Army Corp of Engineer contact to get a jurisdiction determination for the wetland in question. Contact information is available at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District Contacts. Contact your local wetland exemption specialist to discuss options as well.

Question 11 :

Will the project affect more than 10,000 square feet of wetland?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits. Mitigation will be required for the project. Refer to the nonfederal wetland exemption checklist to confirm your eligibility and go to the electronic application process to request a nonfederal- urban exemption confirmation. Be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits. Mitigation will not be required for the project. Refer to the nonfederal wetland exemption checklist to confirm your eligibility and go to the electronic application process to request a nonfederal- urban exemption confirmation. Be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

Question 12 :

Is the project related to an agricultural structure such as a building, driveway or road?

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

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

Question 13 :

Will the project affect more than 3 acres of wetland per parcel?

If your answer is "Yes,” go to Question 23.

If your answer is "No,” go to Question 14.

Question 14 :

Has the United States Army Corps of Engineers determined that the wetland area is a federal water of the United States?

If your answer is "Yes, the wetland is a federal water of the United States.,” go to Question 24.

If your answer is "No, the wetland is NOT a federal water of the United States.,” go to Question 15.

You’ve answered The United States Army Corps of Engineers has not made a jurisdictional determination for the wetland in question..

If your answer is “The United States Army Corps of Engineers has not made a jurisdictional determination for the wetland in question.,”:

A federal jurisdictional determination is needed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to determine if your project would qualify for a state permitting exemption. If this project is time sensitive, you may wish to consider the wetland to be a federal wetland to continue to move forward with the project as expeditiously as possible. If you would like to presume federal wetland status, click “Yes, the wetland is a federal water of the United States”. Otherwise, work with your local Army Corp of Engineer contact to get a jurisdiction determination for the wetland in question. Contact information is available at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District Contacts. Contact your local wetland exemption specialist to discuss options as well.

Question 15 :

Will the project affect more than 1.5 acres of wetland?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits. Mitigation will be required for the project. Refer to the nonfederal wetland exemption checklist to confirm your eligibility and go to the electronic application process to request a nonfederal- urban exemption confirmation. Be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits. Mitigation will not be required for the project. Refer to the nonfederal wetland exemption checklist to confirm your eligibility and go to the electronic application process to request a nonfederal- urban exemption confirmation. Be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

Question 16 :

Are you a drainage district looking to place fill in a wetland to maintain a drainage ditch?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits if the material is spread into cultivated land, is not placed more than 2 feet deep at the top of a bank, and does not exceed a slope of 8 to 1. Please refer to 30.20(1g)(d), Wis. Stat. [exit DNR], to ensure that this project complies with all waterway and wetland exemption requirement. Please be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

Your project does not qualify for a permit exemption; go to Wetland permits to determine the type of wetland permit you will need.

Question 17 :

Are you a drainage district looking to place fill in a wetland to maintain a drainage ditch?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits if the material is spread into cultivated land, is not placed more than 2 feet deep at the top of a bank, and does not exceed a slope of 8 to 1. Please refer to 30.20(1g)(d), Wis. Stat. [exit DNR], to ensure that this project complies with all waterway and wetland exemption requirement. Please be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

Your project does not qualify for a permit exemption; go to Wetland permits to determine the type of wetland permit you will need.

Question 18 :

Are you a drainage district looking to place fill in a wetland to maintain a drainage ditch?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits if the material is spread into cultivated land, is not placed more than 2 feet deep at the top of a bank, and does not exceed a slope of 8 to 1. Please refer to 30.20(1g)(d), Wis. Stat. [exit DNR], to ensure that this project complies with all waterway and wetland exemption requirement. Please be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

Your project does not qualify for a permit exemption; go to Wetland permits to determine the type of wetland permit you will need.

Question 19 :

Are you a drainage district looking to place fill in a wetland to maintain a drainage ditch?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits if the material is spread into cultivated land, is not placed more than 2 feet deep at the top of a bank, and does not exceed a slope of 8 to 1. Please refer to 30.20(1g)(d), Wis. Stat. [exit DNR], to ensure that this project complies with all waterway and wetland exemption requirement. Please be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

Your project does not qualify for a permit exemption; go to Wetland permits to determine the type of wetland permit you will need.

Question 20 :

Are you a drainage district looking to place fill in a wetland to maintain a drainage ditch?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits if the material is spread into cultivated land, is not placed more than 2 feet deep at the top of a bank, and does not exceed a slope of 8 to 1. Please refer to 30.20(1g)(d), Wis. Stat. [exit DNR], to ensure that this project complies with all waterway and wetland exemption requirement. Please be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

Your project does not qualify for a permit exemption; go to Wetland permits to determine the type of wetland permit you will need.

Question 21 :

Are you a drainage district looking to place fill in a wetland to maintain a drainage ditch?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits if the material is spread into cultivated land, is not placed more than 2 feet deep at the top of a bank, and does not exceed a slope of 8 to 1. Please refer to 30.20(1g)(d), Wis. Stat. [exit DNR], to ensure that this project complies with all waterway and wetland exemption requirement. Please be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

Your project does not qualify for a permit exemption; go to Wetland permits to determine the type of wetland permit you will need.

Question 22 :

Are you a drainage district looking to place fill in a wetland to maintain a drainage ditch?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits if the material is spread into cultivated land, is not placed more than 2 feet deep at the top of a bank, and does not exceed a slope of 8 to 1. Please refer to 30.20(1g)(d), Wis. Stat. [exit DNR], to ensure that this project complies with all waterway and wetland exemption requirement. Please be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

Your project does not qualify for a permit exemption; go to Wetland permits to determine the type of wetland permit you will need.

Question 23 :

Are you a drainage district looking to place fill in a wetland to maintain a drainage ditch?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits if the material is spread into cultivated land, is not placed more than 2 feet deep at the top of a bank, and does not exceed a slope of 8 to 1. Please refer to 30.20(1g)(d), Wis. Stat. [exit DNR], to ensure that this project complies with all waterway and wetland exemption requirement. Please be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

Your project does not qualify for a permit exemption; go to Wetland permits to determine the type of wetland permit you will need.

Question 24 :

Are you a drainage district looking to place fill in a wetland to maintain a drainage ditch?

You’ve answered Yes.

If your answer is “Yes,”:

You may qualify for an exemption from state wetland permits if the material is spread into cultivated land, is not placed more than 2 feet deep at the top of a bank, and does not exceed a slope of 8 to 1. Please refer to 30.20(1g)(d), Wis. Stat. [exit DNR], to ensure that this project complies with all waterway and wetland exemption requirement. Please be sure to obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

You’ve answered No.

If your answer is “No,”:

Your project does not qualify for a permit exemption; go to Wetland permits to determine the type of wetland permit you will need.

Question 25 :

Is the wetland complex adjacent or contiguous to a class I or II trout stream?

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

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

You’ve answered I don’t know.

If your answer is “I don’t know,”:

You may utilize our online mapping tool, Surface Water Data Viewer, to make this determination and go back and answer this question. If you are unsure of how to use this application, please use our How-To tutorial.

FAQ for Act 183

Artificial

What is an artificial wetland?

An artificial wetland is a landscape feature that has no wetland or stream history prior to August 1, 1991 and has been modified by human activities that changed the landscape or hydrology to give the feature wetland characteristics.

How do I know if a wetland on my property is an artificial wetland?

The first step is to determine if there is wetland or stream history prior to August 1, 1991 in the area in question. Maps, aerial photographs, previous wetland delineations, and historic land surveys can help provide evidence to make this determination. Next, evidence is needed that human activities resulted in the presence of the wetland characteristics.

Wetland delineators may be able to evaluate the evidence and provide you with an opinion if a wetland area is artificial. DNR also offers a wetland identification service that can confirm wetland presence and determine if a wetland is potentially artificial.

How does Act 183 impact my property with an artificial wetland?

Act 183 did not change wetland boundaries on your property, but creates a new permit exemption for filling in certain types of artificial wetlands. If you know that wetlands are present on your property and would like to claim this exemption, refer to the artificial wetland exemption checklist and wetland exemption decision module to confirm your eligibility. You must submit an exemption request prior to initiating your project. It will take no longer than 15 days to process complete exemption requests.

If you are not sure if you have wetlands on your property, you may wish to reach out to a private wetland delineator who can help you make this determination. The Wetland Identification Program can also be help you determine if wetlands are present on your property.

Be aware that Act 183 does not change U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations. You must obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

When is a wetland permit needed?

The Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers regulates the placement of fill in a wetland. If a land-disturbing activity is occurring in a wetland area, it is important to consult the wetland decision matrix and review the artificial wetland exemption checklist to determine if the project would qualify for a permit exemption or a permit is needed. If a project is exempt under a state artificial wetland exemption, it is possible that the project may still require U.S. Army Corp of Engineer permitting so it is important to contact your federal contact as well:

» U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - St. Paul District Regulatory Boundary & Area Offices.

Do I need to take steps to lessen the impacts on artificial wetlands?

Wetland mitigation is not required for projects that qualify for an artificial wetland exemption or a wetland general permit; however, wetland mitigation is required for all wetland individual permits that are approved.

Are all artificial wetlands eligible for the artificial wetland exemption?

No. Artificial wetlands that were created to comply with wetland mitigation requirements or serve as a fish spawning habitat, do not qualify for the exemption.

Do I need to notify DNR before starting a project on an artificial wetland?

Yes. Visit wetland identification for more information.

When does the artificial wetland exemption take effect?

The artificial wetland exemption takes effect on July 1, 2018.

Nonfederal exemption

How does Act 183 impact my property?

Act 183 creates new permit exemptions to place fill material in certain types of nonfederal wetlands. Nonfederal wetlands are not subject to federal jurisdiction. Act 183 did not change wetland boundaries on your property. If you know that wetlands are present on your property and would like to claim this exemption, refer to the nonfederal wetland exemption checklist and wetland exemption decision module to confirm your eligibility. You must submit an exemption request prior to initiating your project. It will take no longer than 15 days to process complete exemption requests including a jurisdictional determination from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and proof that mitigation requirements have been satisfied, if applicable.

Wetland exemption specialists are available to answer questions you may have about the notification process and we encourage stakeholders to reach out before formally beginning the notification process. If you are not sure if you have wetlands on your property, you may wish to reach out to a private wetland delineator who can help you make this determination. The Wetland Identification Program can also help you determine if wetlands are present on your property.

Be aware that Act 183 does not change U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations. You must obtain any other federal or local permits or approvals before you begin your project.

What is an isolated wetland?

An “isolated wetland” is sometimes described as a wetland that is not regulated under the Clean Water Act. Isolated wetlands are inland and have no connection to navigable waters. The term “isolated wetlands” is not found in state statute and does not necessarily describe all federal vs. nonfederal wetland types. In state statute and DNR guidance, you will see the term “nonfederal wetlands” used in lieu of “isolated wetlands”.

Nonfederal wetland: A wetland that is not subject to federal jurisdiction under 33 USC 1344.

What is a federal wetland?

Any wetland that is subject to federal jurisdiction under 33 USC 1344 is considered a federal wetland. All federal wetlands are regulated by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

Who determines whether my wetland is federal or not?

Only the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can decide of whether your wetland is federal or nonfederal.

Can I now fill a nonfederal wetland?

Before placing fill in a nonfederal wetland, landowners must obtain an exemption confirmation from the department. Visit Wetland identification requests to begin the exemption application process. Refer to the wetland exemption decision matrix, if you are not sure if your project qualifies for a permitting exemption.

How do I know if a wetland on my property is nonfederal?

Although a trained wetland delineator can give an opinion if a wetland would be considered a federal or nonfederal wetland, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is the only agency that can make a final determination. Approved jurisdictional determinations completed by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are available at:

» U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Regulatory Actions

.
When is a wetland permit needed?

The Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers regulates the placement of fill in a wetland. If a land disturbing activity is occurring in a wetland area, it is important to utilize the wetland decision matrix and review the nonfederal wetland exemption checklists to determine if the project would qualify for a permitting exemption or a permit is needed.

What is a rare or high-quality wetland?

A rare or high-quality wetland is one that is connected to or shares a common border with a class I or II trout stream OR consists of 75 percent or more of any of the following wetland types.

  • Alder thicket
  • Calcareous fen
  • Coniferous swamp
  • Coniferous bog
  • Floodplain forest
  • Hardwood swamp
  • Interdunal wetland
  • Open bog
  • Ridge and swale complex
  • Deep marsh
  • Sedge meadow

With the exemption of interdunal wetlands and ridge and swale complexes, these wetland types are classified and defined under the Eggers and Reed “Wetland Community Classification Key, and the Minnesota Bureau of Soil and Water Resources document titled “Eggers & Reed Wetland Plant Community Type Key and Quality Ranking” (Quality Ranking Document). This document can be obtained online from: http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/wetlands/wca/Eggers_Reed_Wetland_Class_key.pdf. More information about interdunal wetlands and ridge and swale complexes can be found at:

» Wisconsin’s natural communities.

When is wetland mitigation required?

Wetland mitigation is wetland enhancement, restoration, creation and/or preservation project that serves to offset unavoidable wetland impacts. It may also be referred to as compensatory mitigation. Wetland mitigation is required for all wetland individual permits that are approved. Additionally, wetland compensatory mitigation is required for exempt wetland activities that affect between 10,000 sq. ft. and 1 acre of wetlands in an urban area, and between 1.5 acres and 3 acres of wetlands in a rural area.

How do I know if my wetland is in an urban area?

A wetland is in an urban area if it is:

  • in an incorporated area;
  • within one-half mile of an incorporated area; or
  • in a town served by a sewerage system.

You may utilize our online mapping tool, Surface Water Data Viewer, to make this determination. Your sewer and water bill may also be helpful.

Do I need to notify DNR before starting a project on a “nonfederal” wetland?

Yes. Visit wetland identification for more information.

When does the nonfederal wetland exemption take effect?

The nonfederal wetland exemption takes effect on July 1, 2018.

Guidance documents

Two guidance documents have been finalized to help landowners determine eligibility through a step-by-step process, and provide helpful resources and examples.

To begin an exemption request visit:

Contact information

For more information on wetland exemptions, contact the specialist for your county:


Last Revised: Wednesday November 21 2018