1. `Biological functions.'
Wetlands are environments in which a variety of biological functions occur. In may cases, wetlands are very productive ecosystems which support a wide diversity of aquatic and terrestrial organisms. Many wetland areas are vital spawning, breeding, nursery or feeding grounds for a variety of indigenous species. Wetlands are sometimes the habitats for state or federally designated rare, threatened or endangered species. Evaluation of the biological functions should include consideration of the kinds, numbers and relative abundance and distribution of plant and animal species supported by the area, net primary productivity of plant communities, wildlife production and use, and the kinds and amount of organic material transported to other aquatic systems as a potential energy source for consumer organisms in those systems. Habitat evaluation should consider the short- and long-term importance of the wetlands to both aquatic and terrestrial species. In addition, the evaluation should include any specialized wetland functions essential for an organism to complete its life cycle requirements such as cover, spawning, feeding and the like. Each wetland under consideration should be evaluated on a site specific basis.
2. `Watershed functions.'
In addition to their biological functions, wetlands may serve important physical and chemical functions with respect to other wetlands and waters of the state. A specific wetland, or set of wetlands, may play a critical role in maintaining the stability of the entire system to which it is physically and functionally related. This functional role may include the maintenance of both the hydrologic patterns and the physical and chemical processes of related wetlands and other related waters of the state. Evaluation of wetland functions requires a thorough analysis of the manner and extent to which the wetland serves to maintain the hydrologic, physical and chemical processes of the larger ecosystem to which it belongs. Factors to be considered in the evaluation process are discussed below. The use of non-wetland areas may alter the hydrologic, chemical and physical processes of wetlands outside the proposed area of use. The possibility of such impacts from the use area into wetlands and other waters of the state outside the proposed area of use should be carefully considered.
2c. `Hydrologic support functions.'
A particular wetland may function to maintain the hydrologic characteristics, and thereby the physical and chemical integrity of an entire aquatic ecosystem. Assessment of the hydrologic support function shall consider the effects that modifications of a particular area could have on the hydrologic relations to the whole wetland or aquatic ecosystem, and on the cumulative effects of piecemeal alterations. Evaluation of wetlands hydrologic functions shall include consideration of the wetland's location and topographic position, the areal extent of the wetland within the associated system, the degree of connection with other wetlands and waters of the state, and the hydrologic regime. Hydrologic regime refers to the hydrologic characteristics of a wetland such as the source of the water, its velocity, depth and fluctuation, renewal rate and temporal patterns on timing. The water source determines ionic composition, oxygen saturation, and potential pollutant load. Velocity affects turbulence and the ability of the water to carry suspended particulate matter. Water depth and fluctuation patterns have a critical influence on the vegetation, wildlife, and physical-chemical properties of the sediments and overlying waters. Renewal rate describes the frequency of replacement of the water which depends on water depth and volume, frequency of inundation and velocity. The temporal pattern refers to the frequency of inundation and its regularity or predictability. The hydrologic regime of a wetland influences the biological availability and transport of nutrients, detritus and other organic and inorganic constituents between the particular wetland and other water bodies. Other facets of the hydrologic regime may be considered in specific cases. The location and topographic position of any particular wetland in relation to other water systems determine in part the degree to which they are hydrologically connected. The strongest hydrologic connections are likely to occur between wetlands and other water systems which exchange water frequently and/or are nearest to each other. The areal extent of any particular wetland in relation to the total area of the surrounding watershed is an important criterion in evaluating the hydrologic support function. This includes the relative spatial relationships between specific areas under study and the total area of the adjacent wetland and any open water areas in the watershed.
2f. `Groundwater function.'
Groundwater may discharge to a wetland, recharge from a wetland to another area, evaporate from, and/or flow through a wetland. The direction and rate of groundwater flow in a given wetland may change. The criteria that should be considered for their influence on the recharge potential include the total areal extent of wetlands and other waters in the particular drainage basin, and the hydrologic characteristics of the associated aquifer or aquifers including porosity, permeability and transmissivity.
2i. `Storm and flood water storage.'
Some wetlands may be important for storing water and retarding flow during periods of flood or storm discharge. Even wetlands without surface water connections to other water bodies may serve this function. Such wetlands can reduce or at least modify the potentially damaging effects of floods by intercepting and retaining water which might otherwise be channelled through open flow systems. The importance of a given wetland for storm and flood water storage may be modified by the cumulative effects of the proposed activities and previous activities within the watershed. The flood storage capacity of a particular wetland is primarily a function of its area, basin shape, substrate texture and previous degree of saturation. In general, the greater the area of the wetland and the coarser the texture of the substrate, the greater the potential for flood water storage, given unsaturated field conditions. Similarly, wetland vegetation is an important factor in reducing the energy of flood or storm water.
2m. `Shoreline protection.'
Wetlands also function to dissipate the energy of wave motion and runoff surges from storms and snowmelt, and thus lessen the effects of shoreline erosion. Wave action shielding by wetlands is not only important in preserving shorelines and channels, but also in protecting valuable residential, commercial and industrial acreage located adjacent to the aquatic ecosystems. The capacity of a particular wetland to act as an erosional buffer for a shoreline depends on such factors as the vegetation characteristics, the shape and size of the wetland and the adjacent shoreline morphology. The protection of shorelines by wetlands depends primarily on the floristic composition, structure and density of the plant community. Shoreline morphology along with fetch, adjacent bottom topography and wetland vegetation are important considerations in evaluating a wetland for its shoreline protection functions. Wetlands along shorelines with long fetches are likely to be associated with major waters of the state and shall not be considered for use.
2p. `Other watershed functions.'
A wetland may perform a variety of other important functions within a watershed. Wetlands may degrade, inactivate, or store materials such as heavy metals, sediments, nutrients, and organic compounds that would otherwise drain into waterways. However, wetlands may subsequently release potentially harmful materials if the wetland soil is disturbed or its oxidation-reduction conditions altered. Potential alterations of these processes must be considered in the analysis, especially with regard to impacts on wetlands outside the proposed area of use. In assessing the importance of a particular wetland to the performance of watershed functions which influence the physical, chemical and biological properties of related waters, the following shall be considered:
Position of the wetland within the watershed relative to springs, lakes, rivers and other waters;
Land use practices and trends within the watershed, or the likelihood of nutrient, sediment or toxin loads increasing.
3. `Recreational, cultural and economic value.'
Some wetlands are particularly valuable in meeting the demand for recreational areas, directly or indirectly, by helping to maintain water quality and providing wildlife habitat. Examples of recreational uses include: hunting, canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing, and nature study. To some people and cultures certain wetlands provide an important part of their economic base and/or contribute to their cultural heritage. In assessing the recreational, cultural and economic potential of a particular wetland, the following should be considered:
Suitability and compatibility for the different types of recreational uses;
Whether it provides habitat for or produces species of recreational, cultural or economic interest; and
Whether the products of some wetlands species (e.g., wild rice, furbearers, fish) have special cultural value and/or provide a significant portion of the economic base for the people of a region.
4. `Scarcity of wetland type.'
Certain wetland types (e.g., fens, wild rice lakes) which are statewide or regionally scarce possess special resource significance. Scarcity or rareness depends on the frequency of occurrence of the type, the area of the type in existence prior to settlement, the historical conversion of the type and its resultant degree of destruction, and the amount of similar habitat in the present landscape of the region. In assessing the scarcity of a particular wetland, a comparative measure of the commonness among all wetland types and the degree to which wetlands of all types occur in the surrounding landscape should be considered.
5. `Aquatic study areas, sanctuaries and refuges.'
Through various local, state and federal actions, large areas of the nation's wetlands have been designated and preserved by public agencies for scientific study, and the protection of aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Many public and private groups have also established sanctuaries and refuges in wetlands. Wetland areas that are legally and/or administratively controlled as such, or that are included or nominated for inclusion in the national register of natural landmarks, could be comparatively important. Wetland areas of significant social, cultural, or historic value, such as known landmarks, are considered important.
6. `The ecosystem concept in a regional context.'
The previous subsections suggest that wetlands may not only have important functions within their boundaries, but may also interact with ecosystems of the surrounding region. The potential impact of wetland modification may influence distant wetlands if they are structurally and functionally related in the region. Similarly, the functions and values of any wetland may be affected by other existing and potential water resource activities in the region. Therefore, consideration should be given to those impacts which are shown to be of regional concern.
All wetlands which are to be used by the proposed activity shall be inventoried and analyzed pursuant to this chapter. The use of such wetlands shall be de minimis and, therefore, exempt from further application of this section, if the applicant demonstrates the following by a preponderance of evidence:
The wetlands to be used are or can be made to be sufficiently hydrologically isolated from the surface and underground waters of the state so that no violations of applicable laws and regulations would result;
The wetlands are not special or unique utilizing the result of the analysis made pursuant to this chapter; and
The burden of proof to establish compliance with the requirements of this chapter shall be on the operator.
The hearing procedure outlined in s. 293.43
, Stats., shall govern all hearings on the operator's mining permit application.
NR 132.06 History
Cr. Register, August, 1982, No. 320
, eff. 9-1-82; correction in (4) (g) made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 1., Stats., Register, September, 1995, No. 477
; corrections in (2), (3) (d) and (g), (4) (e) and (6) made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 7., Stats., Register, January, 2000, No. 529
The mining plan shall include the following:
Details of the nature, extent and final configuration of the proposed excavation and mining site including location and total production of tailings and other mining refuse, and nature and depth of overburden.
Details of the proposed operating procedures, which may be furnished by reference to documents submitted pursuant to ch. NR 182
Ore processing including milling, concentrating, refining, etc.
Ground and surface water management techniques including provisions for erosion prevention and drainage control and a detailed water management plan showing source, flow paths and rates, storage volumes and release points.
Plans for collection, treatment and discharge of any water resulting from the operation.
The applicant shall prepare a risk assessment of possible accidental health and environmental hazards potentially associated with the mine operation. Contingency measures with respect to these risks and hazards, and the assumptions in this assessment, shall be explicitly stated.
Measures for notifying the public and responsible governmental agencies of potentially hazardous conditions including the movement or accumulation of toxic wastes in ground and surface water, soils and vegetation and other consequences of the operation of importance to public health, safety and welfare.
Description of all surface facilities associated with the mining site.
Description of all geological/geotechnical investigations and drilling programs.
Evidence satisfactory to the department that the proposed mining operation will be consistent with the reclamation plan and will comply with the following minimum standards:
Grading and stabilization of excavation, sides and benches to conform with state and federal environmental and safety requirements and to prevent erosion and environmental pollution.
Grading and stabilization of deposits of mining refuse in conformance with state and federal environmental and safety requirements and solid waste laws and regulations.
Adequate diversion and drainage of water from the mining site to prevent erosion and contamination of surface and groundwaters.
Notwithstanding the provisions of s. NR 812.20
, the backfilling of excavations where such procedure will not interfere with the mining operation and will not:
Cause an exceedance of any groundwater quality standard, including any drinking water standard, implemented under this chapter in accordance with the provisions of ch. NR 182
Handling and storage of all materials on the mining site in an environmentally sound manner as determined by the department. Materials not licensed pursuant to ch. NR 182
but deemed by the department to present a potential threat to the environment shall be subject to the waste characterization analysis procedures set forth in s. NR 182.08 (2) (b)
Removal and stockpiling, or other measures to protect topsoils consistent with environmental considerations and reclamation, prior to mining unless the department determines that such action will be environmentally undesirable.
Maintenance of adequate vegetative cover where feasible to prevent erosion.
Impoundment of water where necessary in a safe and environmentally acceptable manner.
Adequate planning of the site to achieve the aesthetic standards for the entire mine site described in ss. NR 132.17
and 132.18 (5)
Identification and prevention of pollution as defined in s. 281.01 (10)
, Stats., resulting from leaching of waste materials, in accordance with state and federal solid waste laws and regulations.
Maintenance of appropriate emergency procedures to minimize damage to public health, safety and welfare and the environment from events described under sub. (3) (i)
Submission of a plan for a preblasting survey, such survey being completed and submitted to the department prior to any blasting.
NR 132.07 History
Cr. Register, August, 1982, No. 320
, eff. 9-1-82; r. and recr. (4) (e), Register, December, 1986, No. 372
, eff. 1-1-87; correction in (4) (e) (intro.) made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 7., Stats., Register, September, 1995, No. 477
; corrections in (1), (3) (h), (4) (k) and (L) made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 7., Stats., Register, January, 2000, No. 529
The reclamation plan for the mining site shall include the following:
Detailed information and maps on reclamation procedures including:
Manner, location, sequence and anticipated duration of reclamation.
Ongoing reclamation procedures during mining operations.
Proposed interim and final topography and slope stabilization.
Proposed final land use and relationship to surrounding land and land use.
Plans for long-term maintenance of mining site including:
Names of persons legally and operationally responsible for long-term maintenance.
Projected costs of reclamation including estimated cost to the state of fulfilling the reclamation plan.
Evidence satisfactory to the department that the proposed reclamation will conform with the following minimum standards:
All toxic and hazardous wastes, refuse, tailings and other solid waste shall be disposed of in conformance with applicable state and federal statutes or regulations.
All tunnels, shafts or other underground openings shall be sealed in a manner which will prevent seepage of water in amounts which may be expected to create a safety, health or environmental hazard, unless the applicant can demonstrate alternative uses which do not endanger public health and safety and which conform to applicable environmental protection and mine safety laws and rules.
All underground and surface runoff waters from mining sites shall be managed, impounded or treated so as to prevent soil erosion to the extent practicable, flooding, damage to agricultural lands or livestock, damage to wild animals, pollution of ground or surface waters, damage to public health or threats to public safety.
All surface structures constructed as a part of the mining activities shall be removed, unless they are converted to an acceptable alternate use.
Adequate measures shall be taken to prevent significant surface subsidence, but if such subsidence does occur, the affected area shall be reclaimed.
All topsoil from surface areas disturbed by the mining operation shall be removed and stored in an environmentally acceptable manner for use in reclamation.
All disturbed surface areas shall be revegetated as soon as practicable after the disturbance to stabilize slopes and prevent air and water pollution, with the objective of reestablishing a variety of plants and animals indigenous to the area immediately prior to mining, unless such reestablishment is inconsistent with the provisions of s. 293.01 (23)
, Stats. Plant species not indigenous to the area may be used if necessary to provide rapid stabilization of slopes and prevention of erosion, if such species are acceptable to the department, but the ultimate goal of reestablishment of indigenous species shall be maintained.
If it is physically or economically impracticable or environmentally or socially undesirable for the reclamation process to return the affected area to its original state, the reasons therefor and a discussion of alternative conditions and uses to which the affected area can be put.