Major Overhaul of Wetlands Rules in New Hampshire
Governor Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Bob Scott yesterday announced the release of a draft revision of the New Hampshire Wetlands rules, the first complete rewrite of the rules since 1991.
The NHDES wetland rules regulate the following type of resources: wetlands, surface waters (lakes, ponds), watercourses (streams, rivers), shorelines, vernal pools, prime wetlands, coastal lands, and tidal waters.
Example projects impacted by these rules include: beaches, docks, boathouses, wall construction, riprap, bank stabilization, forestry, utility, agriculture, trails, dredging, filling, residential and commercial development, and roadway construction.
“By listening to our stakeholders on ways to improve the wetland rules, we can reduce many of the issues that arise during the permit process – therefore making it more streamlined, predictable, and transparent for both the applicant and NHDES,” said Bob Scott, NHDES Commissioner.
The draft wetland rules propose over 50 new definitions to provide clarity and consistency, shorten the review time for lower scrutiny approvals and expand the number of projects that qualify for streamlined review, including stream crossing projects.
The new rules clarify permit processes, project classification, standard conditions, avoidance, minimization, and mitigation requirements, and application review standards. The draft rules also provide significant changes to the coastal rules and updates to the prime wetland rules.
NHDES will be hosting 5 public input sessions in the following locations:
- Concord: February 26, 2018;
- Portsmouth: February 28, 2018;
- Laconia: March 1, 2018;
- Keene: March 5, 2018;
- Lancaster: March 7, 2018.
The NHDES public comment deadline on the draft rules is April 20, 2018.