UPDATES ON MICHIGAN'S WETLAND PERMITTING PROGRAM
General and Minor Permits
On March 27, 2013, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) updated and reissued the General and Minor Permit Categories for Part 303 Wetlands Protection, Part 301 Inland Lakes and Streams, and Part 325 Great Lakes Submerged Lands of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended. The purpose of the reissuance was to bring the expedited permit categories more in line with the federal nationwide permits.
General Permits are issued for projects that the DEQ has defined to have no more than minimal impacts on natural resources. Applications for General Permits can be reviewed through an expedited permit application review process that typically do not require public notice or on-site inspection by DEQ staff. An example of an activity that is eligible for a General Permit is maintenance dredging of wetland within stormwater detention or retention basins.
Minor Permits can be issued for projects that the DEQ believes to only have a minor impact on natural resources, such as dredging up to 25 cubic yards of material from inland lakes and streams or filling less than 0.10-acre of wetland for roads and utilities for residential developments. Applications for Minor Permits also do not get public noticed, but an on-site inspection by DEQ staff usually does occur.
There are many additional project types that now fit into these expedited permit categories. We invite you to contact one of ASTI’s team of wetland ecologists to determine if your project is eligible.
If you have had a less than favorable experience with wetland permitting in the past, you may want to consider requesting a pre-application meeting with your DEQ permitting staff before you submit a permit application. Pre-application meetings can take place
on-site or in your local DEQ district office. The cost of these meetings range from $150 (in office) to no more than $1,000 for on-site meetings. But, these fees may save you thousands in site re-design and permitting issues and keep your project on schedule. ASTI wetland permitting experts will assist you with setting up a pre-application meeting with DEQ and help you negotiate your next wetland, lake, or stream permit.
Endangered Species Reviews
Due to a lack of continued funding, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has stopped performing threatened and endangered species reviews for proposed projects. DEQ staff will now screen your project at the time of submittal of a permit application to determine if an endangered species survey is necessary. For proposed projects in close proximity to areas where protected species are known to occur, the DEQ may request project clearance for protected species prior to permitting.
Instead of waiting until project permitting to discover that endangered species occur in the vicinity of your project, you have the option to obtain protected species information for your site from the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) at any time, and then contract with an endangered species specialist to assist you with surveys and clearance should these issue arise.
Since Michigan’s endangered species law remains in place, ASTI recommends that you consider potential endangered species issues early on in your development process. This will allow your project team
enough time to determine whether protected species are known to exist in your project area, survey for the species or their habitat, determine if there are potential impacts, and permit the impacts if necessary. ASTI biologists have state and federal endangered species certifications, and will help you navigate this process to identify and avoid costly project delays.
Aggressive, non-native plant species such as common reed (Phragmites australis) are a frequent invader of our detention basins, wetland and near-shore lake resources. These species often detract from the aesthetic quality of the resource, as well as limit the desired usage. The DEQ has recently made it easier than ever to safely control the spread of these aquatic nuisance species through a streamlined herbicide treatment permitting program. ASTI staff have the appropriate training and licenses to assist you with control of unwanted plant species.
ASTI will help you plan a successful project by incorporating these requirements with your overall restoration or development
objectives. Contact Dianne Martin today at 800/395-2784 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your project.
Tech-Bits is intended to provide information concerning current environmental issues, and is not intended to provide technical or legal advice regarding any particular situation. Specific questions should be addressed to your environmental professional. ©2013 by ASTI