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DMR Home > Wetlands and Permit Review

Wetlands and Permit Review

See the sections below for Mission | Standards | Regulations | Application Forms and Info

For more information, please contact Denis-Marc Nault.  For information about dredging projects and hearings, visit our Meetings page.

Mission

The Permit Review Program is responsible for conducting/coordinating environmental impact reviews for permits and federal consistency determinations for projects in the coastal zone pursuant to Coastal Program core laws. The core laws involve regulated activities such as wetland alteration, pollution discharge and dredging/dredge material disposal, both in organized and unorganized territories. The Program is also responsible for environmental impact reviews on projects seeking public lands leases on publicly owned submerged and/or inter-tidal lands, which could have an effect on Maine's fisheries infrastructure, as well as reviewing and commenting on municipal comprehensive plans which may affect marine, estuarine and riverine resources.

Standards

When reviewing wetland alteration permit applications, review guidelines are utilized to standardize the process as much as possible. Guidelines concerning the values of various marine habitats are the basis for making a determination of adverse affect. They include the following:

Soft Bottom Habitat

The loss of soft bottom habitat (mud, sand, sand and gravel) to filling or dredging is harmful to wildlife and estuarine marine fisheries for the following reasons:

1) Soft bottom supports a variety of marine organisms in various positions in the marine food chain from primary producers, such as benthic diatoms, to tertiary consumers, such as shore birds.
2) Soft bottom acts as a sink for soluble organic compounds and minerals, absorbing them when they are abundant and releasing them when depleted.
3) Soft bottom supports a variety of marine organisms such as marine bacteria and detritus feeders, which are important to the recycling of nutrients.
4) Intertidal flats are utilized by juvenile fish in feeding and act as a refuge from deeper water predators during much of the tidal cycle.
5) Many species of shore birds rely heavily (and some exclusively) upon tidal flats for feeding and resting.
6) Soft bottom supports, either directly or indirectly, many commercially important species.

Hard Bottom Habitat

The loss of hard bottom habitat (ledge, boulders and cobble) to filling and dredging is harmful to wildlife and estuarine or marine fisheries for the following reasons:

1) Hard bottom supports a variety of marine organisms in various positions in the marine food chain from primary producers, such as seaweed, to tertiary consumers such as shore birds.
2) Hard bottom supports a variety of filter feeding organisms such as barnacles and mussels which are important to maintaining good water quality.
3) Hard bottom substrates are necessary for many epiphytic organisms which must attach to firm objects and surfaces to survive, grow and reproduce.
4) Rock crevices are utilized as shelter or refuge by many fish and crustacean species.
5) Some species of shore birds rely heavily upon rocky shores for feeding and resting.
6) Hard bottom supports, either directly or indirectly, many commercially important species.

Salt Marshes

The loss of salt marshes to filling or dredging is harmful to wildlife and estuarine or marine fisheries for the following reasons:

1) Salt marshes and associated waters are spawning and nursery grounds for over two-thirds of our commercial and recreational marine fishes.
2) Salt marshes are highly productive, producing up to ten tons of organic matter per acre per year, and are a major contributor fueling estuarine food webs.
3) Salt marshes act as a barrier against storm flowage significantly reducing shoreline erosion by absorbing flood waters and attenuating wave action.
4) Salt marshes improve water quality by removing suspended solids, excessive nutrients and pollutants from overlying waters.
5) Salt marshes are utilized by many waterfowl and shorebirds for feeding, resting and nesting.
6) Salt marshes have high scenic value and provide many recreational opportunities.

Regulations

The laws pertaining to wetland alterations are embodied in three portions of the Natural Resources Protection Act:

1) the Act itself - Title 38 M.R.S.A. Section 480a - 480s,
2) the Wetland Protection Rules - DEP Regulations Chapter 310 and
3) the Permit By Rule Standards - DEP Regulations Chapter 305.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administers the Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA). Visit the NRPA web page for more information.

Application Forms and Information

These are PDF files, and may require Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader software (download free here) to view or print.