If a property contains wetlands or riparian areas, it will be subject to certain regulations about which your client should know. By understanding the basics of these permits, you will be able to help your client feel more confident and knowledgeable about the property and make wise land use decisions. Please visit the links below or download our Realtor Guide for descriptions of the different permits.
There’s no need to be intimidated or confused by wetland and riparian area regulations. The regulations are designed to minimize damage to these valuable areas for the benefit of the landowner and their community. Stewardship of these areas begins with recognizing their value and avoiding impacts to them by building away from these areas or restoring them if necessary. If construction near these areas is unavoidable, the permit system ensures that minimal damage is done and if necessary, restoration projects are completed.
It’s not difficult to apply for these permits. To reduce paperwork, several Montana agencies involved in permitting developed a joint application. Landowners can now fill out and submit one application for four different permits. Also, the people in charge of administering the permits are willing to answer questions and may be available for a site visit.
So that they have clear expectations, advise the landowner that it could take up to four months to go through the permitting process. For pond development, obtaining water rights could take up to two years. Although the permit system may seem daunting at first, it is much easier to apply for a permit before the project begins rather than deal with expensive mitigation and fines afterwards. Fines can be severe and cost the landowner tens of thousands of dollars. Therefore, it is beneficial for the landowner to apply for these permits and contact local and state land management agencies prior to starting their project.
If the property has a wetland:
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- 404 Permit
- DEQ, 318 Authorization
- Local Set-back Regulations, contact local city & county goverment.
If the property is near a river or stream:
- 310 Permit
- Floodplain Permit
- 404 Permit
- 318 Authorization
- Water Rights
- Local setback regulations, contact local city and county governments.
- MT Stream Access Law
If the property has needs a well or a septic system:
- Groundwater Well, Notice of Completion
- Septic system permit, contact County Sanitarian.
If the property is near a lake:
- Lakeshore regulations, contact local county government.
- 318 Authorization
- Local setback regulations, contact local city and county goverments
If the property is located on a tribal
- Flathead Reservation: Shoreline Protection and Aquatic Land Conservation Ordinance for work near a stream, river, lake or wetland.
- Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Water Quality Program, reservation waters. Ordinance 89 B for projects affecting reservation waters
- Blackfeet Reservation: Aquatic Lands Protection Ordinance 90 for projects that occur in wetlands, riparian areas or streams.
- Other reservations are currently developing their own protection measures. If the property is located on a reservation, contact the appropriate tribal government.
If your client is considering a pond: