Governor Walker Signs Wetlands Bill March 28, 2018

April 4, 2018

Governor Scott Walker signed a wetlands bill on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, the highlights of which are noted below. For a specific explanation of how this legislation impacts your project, and what you need to do, please reach out to one of raSmith’s WDNR Assured Wetland Delineators identified at the end of this article.

Key Changes

1) Artificial wetlands are exempt from WDNR permitting requirements. These wetlands are now expanded to include all man-made features that do not show a wetland or stream history prior to August 1, 1991, but excludes fish spawning areas, fish passage areas or wetland mitigation areas.

2) Non-federal wetlands are exempt from WDNR permitting under two scenarios:

  • Within an urban area (one-half mile of an incorporated area or sewerage district) wetland impacts are allowed up to one acre per parcel. The first 10,000 square feet of impact are exempt from mitigation.
  • Within an agricultural setting, up to three acres per parcel are exempt if the proposed impact is for agricultural facilities. The first 1.5 acres of impact are exempt from mitigation.

3) The WDNR must be notified at least 15 days in advance of starting a project that may impact non-federal wetlands.

4) A wetland delineation is required for all wetlands regardless of jurisdiction.

The ramifications of changes to the jurisdiction and permitting process are unknown at this time. There is speculation as to whether requiring a single agency (USACE) to handle all State wetland jurisdictional determinations and permits processing is sustainable in both the short and long term.

For assistance with a wetlands related project, please contact Theran Stautz or Tina Myers, WDNR Assured Wetland Delineators and Professional Wetland Scientists at raSmith.

About the Author

Theran Stautz has more than 14 years of wetland and forest resource experience in the Great Lakes and Southeast regions of the United States. He is an Assured Wetland Delineator with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. His experience includes wetland determinations, delineations, identification of specific vegetation community boundaries, native habitat restoration, invasive species management and prescribed burn activities.

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