Note: Most states have enacted laws and regulations to protect wetlands. In many cases, these rules are established to define the state's role in the "§404 permit/§401 certification process." This process involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and your state environmental agency. To learn more about the wetlands permitting process go to the CICA Wetlands Regulations/Permit page.
How Are Wetlands Activities Regulated by Alabama? Projects which include potential impacts to waterbottoms or the dredging and/or filling of wetlands will require permits and/or certifications from ADEM, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers(USACE), and, in some instances, the State Oil and Gas Board, and/or the ALDCNR-State Lands Division. The ADEM review of these types of projects is normally initiated when the property owner makes application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Some of these projects, such as the construction of residential piers and projects involving minimal wetlands impacts, may be permitted under a pre-certified USACE General or Nationwide Permit and will not require further review by the Department. Many projects will require an Individual Permit from the USACE, which will be jointly reviewed by the USACE and ADEM concurrently. This includes: Marinas, including the expansion of existing marinas; Shoreline stabilization such as seawalls, bulkheads, jetties, groins and similar structures; Beach nourishment projects; Major dredging projects; Projects involving more than minimal impacts to wetlands; and Placement of oil and gas platforms. Dredge and fill activities that are not regulated under the state's Coastal Area Management Program are only reviewed through the DEM's § 401 Water Quality Certification program.
Mitigation Measures. Applicants must replace wetlands or enhance or restore existing degraded wetlands.
Wetlands. Wetlands are areas "delineated pursuant to the technical criteria described in the Federal Wetlands Delineation Manual that is currently being used in the Federal Corps of Engineers and/or any other updated manual that may be used in the future." Wetlands do not include areas that result from man-made conditions, except for mitigation sites.
Regulated Wetland Activities. The DEM defines regulated activities as any activity which is subject to the management program and which requires a state permit or which is required by federal law to be consistent with the management program. A permit or certification is needed to dredge or fill state waterbottoms or adjacent wetlands.
Exempt Wetland Activities. Certain uses of wetlands are acceptable when they are conducted according to DEM regulations. These are the fulfillment of an emergency decree or pronouncement to protect the public health and safety; the conservation, repletion, and research activities of the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium, the Marine Resources Division of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium; the exercise of riparian rights; normal maintenance and repair of bulkheads, piers, roads, and highways; the use of structures or lands for dwelling purposes, including activities normally associated with and incidental to a dwelling; activities normal and associated with the maintenance and repair of railroads, utilities, transportation, telephone communication, or distribution or gas, electricity or water; mosquito control efforts; the planting, growing, or harvesting of plants, crops, trees, or agricultural/forestry products; completion of legally valid housing developments; construction of minor structures; conservation, repletion, research and management associated with a Estuarine Research Reserve, state/federal park or wildlife reserve, the marine mammal stranding network, the US Fish and Wildlife Service or the DEM; aquatic weed control programs. Persons must first contact the DEM before beginning a permissible use.
Water Environment Federation. The WEF Web site provides access to a wetlands related technical discussion area, as well as publications and other information on wetlands.
Wetlands Regulation Center. The Wetlands Regulation Center Web site contains information on laws, policies and regulations concerning activities regulated under Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Association of State Wetland Managers. The Association of State Wetland Managers Web site provides information on wetlands news and events, including new regulations/legislation, upcoming conferences and events, publications, and more.
Society of Wetland Scientists. The Society of Wetland Scientists Web site provides access to on-line scientific wetlands journals and a wetlands discussion forum, as well as information on upcoming wetlands conferences and events.
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