2019 - 2020 LEGISLATURE
December 23, 2019 - Introduced by Representatives Oldenburg, Steineke,
Billings, Doyle, Edming, Horlacher, Kerkman, Kitchens, Krug, Kurtz, B.
Meyers, Milroy, Mursau, Nygren, Sinicki, Skowronski, Stuck, Thiesfeldt,
Tranel, Tusler, Wichgers and Loudenbeck, cosponsored by Senators
Cowles, Bewley, Feyen, Hansen, Miller, Olsen, Petrowski, Ringhand,
Schachtner, Shilling, Testin, Wanggaard and Wirch. Referred to
Committee on Environment.
1An Act to repeal
30.2065 (1) and 30.2065 (2) (title); to renumber and amend
30.2065 (2); and to create
15.347 (23) and 30.2065 (1g) of the statutes; relating
3to: a general permit for hydrologic restoration projects and creating a
4hydrologic restoration and management advisory council.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill requires the Department of Natural Resources to issue a general
permit that authorizes wetland, stream, and floodplain restoration and
management activities that will result in a net improvement in hydrologic
connections, conditions, and functions. Under current law, DNR may issue a general
permit to a person wishing to proceed with a wetland restoration activity sponsored
by a federal agency.
The bill requires DNR to apply several conditions to the new general permit
relating to improvement of hydrologic conditions. The bill authorizes DNR to require
an individual seeking approval to conduct activities under the general permit to
apply for an individual permit under certain circumstances.
Like the existing general permit for wetland restoration activity, a general
permit issued under the bill is valid for a period of five years, except that an activity
that DNR determines is authorized by a general permit remains authorized under
the permit until the activity is completed. Also, like the existing general permit for
wetland restoration activity, a general permit issued under the bill is in lieu of any
permit or approval that would otherwise be required for that activity under state
navigable water law, water quality law, or wetland law.
The bill creates at DNR a hydrologic restoration and management advisory
council to provide input, make recommendations, and generally assist DNR with the
implementation of the new general permit and associated restoration projects.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
15.347 (23) of the statutes is created to read:
15.347 (23) Hydrologic restoration and management advisory council.
(a) There is created in the department of natural resources a hydrologic 4
restoration and management advisory council consisting of no fewer than 7 and no 5
more than 15 members appointed by the secretary of natural resources. The 6
secretary shall, as feasible, appoint members who represent entities such as local 7
governments and state and federal agencies with shared regulatory jurisdiction or 8
programmatic priorities; tribal partners; and academic, nongovernmental, and 9
private sector partners. The secretary shall appoint members with diverse expertise 10
in policies and practices relevant to the functions of the council, such as wetland, 11
stream, and watershed restoration; floodplain management and hydrology; fluvial 12
geomorphology; and hydrogeology.
(b) The hydrologic restoration and management advisory council shall do all 14
of the following:
1. Provide input on the terms, conditions, and implementation of policies 16
related to the review of hydrologic restoration and management projects, including 17
the general permit for hydrologic restoration and management issued under s. 18
2. Create a forum to help increase and improve interagency coordination on the 20
review of proposals to reconnect streams and floodplains.
3. Consider and recommend opportunities to help local governments plan, 2
review, and implement hydrologic and floodplain restoration projects.
4. Consider and recommend policy and program changes needed to increase 4
integration of hydrologic restoration and management strategies in state-sponsored 5
programs related to flood hazard mitigation, water quality improvement, and fishery 6
and wildlife management.
5. Assist the department of natural resources with the planning and 8
implementation of trainings on hydrologic restoration and management for state 9
regulatory and resource management staff, local governments, restoration 10
practitioners, and other relevant audiences.
6. Identify and address other issues related to subds. 1. to 5. and provide 12
recommendations on those issues.
(c) The department of natural resources shall staff the council.
30.2065 (1) of the statutes is repealed.
30.2065 (1g) of the statutes is created to read:
(a) The department shall issue a general permit that authorizes 17
wetland, stream, and floodplain restoration and management activities that will 18
result in a net improvement in hydrologic connections, conditions, and functions. 19
These activities shall be designed to the extent possible to return wetland, stream, 20
and floodplain hydrology to a natural and self-regulating condition in order to 21
achieve such goals as to slow the flow of runoff, reduce flood peaks, restore surface 22
and groundwater interactions, improve water quality, or increase soil retention, 23
groundwater infiltration, base flow, upper watershed storage, and flood resilience. 24
An activity is authorized by the general permit only if the applicant demonstrates 25
to the satisfaction of the department that the activity will result in net improvements
in hydrologic connections, conditions, and functions and will not injure public rights 2
or interests or result in material injury to the rights of any riparian owner. The 3
department may develop a quantification tool to determine if an activity will meet 4
those standards. The department shall include conditions under the general permit 5
that do all of the following:
1. Authorize hydrologic restoration activities in and adjacent to wetlands, 7
streams, floodplains, and drainageways, including those that are no longer present 8
but are restorable, for the purposes of reconnecting streams and floodplains, 9
reestablishing healthy channel form and condition, removing or reducing wetland 10
drainage, restoring or improving natural flow and movement of water or sediment, 11
and reestablishing vegetation to support site stability and help manage flow and 12
2. Authorize hydrologic restoration activities that alter the flow of water in, to, 14
or from an area of special natural resource interest if the activities restore or repair 15
surface or subsurface connections within the area of special natural resource interest 16
or between the area of special natural resource interest and other waters of the state.
3. Authorize approval for certain low-risk dams, as determined by the 18
department, that do not meet the definition of a large dam under s. 31.19 (1m). The 19
department shall establish reasonable conditions in the permit to ensure that life, 20
health, property, and property values are protected.
4. Specify that the general permit does not authorize any of the following 22
a. Construction of artificial wetlands.
b. Construction of stormwater retention or detention ponds.
c. Construction of large dams, as defined under s. 31.19 (1m), or dams that pose 2
a risk to life, health, or property.
d. Activities that straighten, berm, dredge, or armor stream channels, except 4
when proposed as a necessary element of a larger hydrologic restoration plan.
e. Fish and wildlife habitat enhancement activities that are not associated with 6
a larger hydrologic restoration plan.
(am) In addition to the conditions under par. (a), the department may include 8
other conditions necessary to ensure that activities authorized by the general permit 9
will not injure public rights or interests or result in material injury to the rights of 10
any riparian owner.
(b) The department shall consider all of the following factors when it assesses 12
whether a proposed activity will result in net improvements in hydrologic 13
connections, conditions, and functions:
1. Minimal adverse impacts regulated under this chapter and ch. 281 may be 15
allowed if those impacts are anticipated to be temporary.
2. Restoring natural and self-regulating hydrology may result in permanent 17
but net-positive changes to biotic communities and abiotic conditions.
(c) In reviewing activities proposed to be conducted under a general permit 19
issued under this subsection, the department may do any of the following:
1. Waive fees.
2. Establish a reporting-only notification process for activities funded in whole 22
or in part by a state or federal agency.
3. Waive requirements for wetland delineations and functional assessments.
4. Adjust and simplify the application and information requirements to reflect 2
the fact that voluntary hydrologic restoration projects differ from projects with 3
potential adverse environmental impacts.
5. Waive requirements related to wetland mitigation for impacts incidental to 5
more fully restoring wetland hydrology.
(d) The department shall notify, in writing, a person who has applied under s. 7
30.206 (3) (a) for authorization to proceed under a general permit issued under this 8
subsection that the person is required to apply for an individual permit if the 9
department determines that the proposed activity will not result in net 10
improvements to hydrologic connections, condition, and functions. The department 11
shall document in this notification its reasons for making this determination.
(e) A person wishing to proceed with an activity that may be authorized by a 13
general permit under this subsection may request and shall be granted a 14
preapplication meeting with the department prior to submitting an application 15
under s. 30.206 (3) (a). The department shall attempt to coordinate this meeting with 16
the local zoning authority in cases where local zoning regulations apply.
30.2065 (2) (title) of the statutes is repealed.
30.2065 (2) of the statutes is renumbered 30.2065, and 30.2065 (1), 19
(2) and (3) (intro.), as renumbered, are amended to read: