Issue Profile
Permit-by-Rule (NRPA)

Date: October 2008       


Permit-by-Rule regulations (Chapter 305) apply to certain activities covered under the Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA). The regulations identify activities taking place in or adjacent to wetlands and waterbodies that should not significantly affect the environment if carried out according to the standards contained in the regulations. A person proposing to do work that qualifies for Permit-by-Rule is required to file notice with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) instead of preparing an individual permit application.

What is the intent of Permit-by-Rule?

Permit-by-Rule is intended to save applicants the time and expense of filing a permit application with DEP, while at the same time protecting the environment and providing direction in the form of standards as to how an activity must be carried out.

What is the range of activities now eligible for Permit-by-Rule?

The following activities may be eligible:

  • activities adjacent to a protected natural resource
  • placement of permanent intake pipes and water monitoring devices (including drilled wells)
  • replacement of permanent structures
  • movement of rocks and vegetation
  • placement of outfall pipes (including ditches and drain tiles)
  • shoreline stabilization using vegetation or riprap
  • construction of crossings (utility lines, pipes and cables)
  • construction of stream crossings (bridges, culverts and fords)
  • general permits for state transportation facilities
  • restoration of natural areas (i.e., undoing human alteration)
  • fisheries & wildlife habitat creation or enhancement and water quality improvement projects
  • public boat ramps
  • selected activities in coastal sand dunes
  • transfers and permit extensions
  • one-time renewals of maintenance dredging permits
  • activity in,on, or over significant vernal pool habitat
  • activity in existing developed areas located in,on orver high or moderate value inland
  • waterfowl & wading birds habitat, or shorebird nesting, feeding and staging areas

If I propose one of the eligible activities, how do I know if I qualify for Permit-by-Rule?

First, obtain copies of the NRPA Permit-By-Rule Standards ( DEP Rule Chapter 305) and notification form from the DEP office nearest you. The forms may be requested by phone or mail and may be downloaded from the internet. Addresses and phone numbers for the offices are listed at the end of this publication.

Second, turn to the section for your type of proposed activity in the Chapter 305 standards. Read the applicability section that describes in further detail which activities are included and where they are allowed. For example, Riprap (Section 8(A)(3) is not allowed on a river as defined under the Mandatory Shore land Zoning Act.

Third, read all the standards contained in the section. If you can meet all of the standards, you are eligible for Permit-by-Rule.

If I am eligible, what's the next step?

You must file notice of your proposed activity on a form provided by DEP. You should keep a copy of the filled out form for your records. The Department will send a copy of the approved PBR form to the appropriate municipality. You must send the notice certified mail return receipt requested to the appropriate DEP regional office or hand deliver it and have it date stamped there. This is necessary in order to document when you can start the project. (See section below.) The regional offices and their boundaries are shown on a map included with the rule.

Is any additional information required by the DEP?

Yes. For all projects, a location map of the project site must be included with the notice form. The map must clearly show the location of the project site. The Department accepts the use of a copy of a U.S.G.S. topographic map or a copy of the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map for the area of the project site.

For all activities except general permits for state transportation facilities (Section 11) and stream crossings (Section 10), one or more before photographs documenting the condition of the existing activity area must also be submitted. The photographs should show the relation of the project site to the resource (pond, stream, wetland, etc.). Once you have completed the activity, you must submit additional after photographs that document your project's compliance with the rules.

Other information may be required under different activity sections. For example, a scale drawing of the property, existing developed areas and proposed activity location is required for Section 2 Activities Adjacent to Protected Natural Resources. Be sure to read each Submissions section of the rule for each activity you plan to perform.

[NOTE : The Department is trying to better locate Permit-by-Rule activities on a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database and have included boxes on the Notification Form for UTM coordinates. If you know the coordinates for your activity, it would be helpful to us to include them on the form. However, it is not required that you supply this information .]

Do I need anyone else's permission before filing the PBR notice form?

In some cases, yes. If your activity is located in an Essential Habitat area identified and mapped by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIF&W), you must obtain written approval from DIF&W before the DEP can authorize performing any activity under Permit-by-Rule. Approval from DIF&W may include certain requirements that you have to meet in addition to the PBR standards. For example, if your project is within a certain distance of a mapped bald eagle nesting site, you may not be allowed to perform the activity during the nesting season. Currently, bald eagle, least tern, roseate tern and piping plover nesting sites have been mapped as Essential Habitats. For more information about Essential Habitats and their location, you can contact any of the regional DEP or DIF&W offices or visit DIF&W's website at .

Can I do my project whenever I want?

In most cases, yes. But there are certain activities allowed under Permit-by-Rule that occur in the water or at the shore and there may be timing restrictions. Some activities such as stream and utility crossings are only allowed in the summer and early fall unless other state natural resource agencies approve of a different timing for the project. For example, if you want to construct a stream crossing in February, the DEP will ask other state agencies such as DIF&W if a winter-time crossing is acceptable. Depending upon the sensitivity of the stream involved, your crossing may be approved as proposed or delayed until later in the year. You can contact these other state agencies for timing approval prior to filing your PBR notice form by telephone or by using forms the department has available.

The following activities have some form of timing restriction:

  • Sections 3, 4, 7, 12 and 18 (Intake pipes, Structure replacement, Outfall pipes, Restoration of natural areas, Maintenance dredging permit renewal) in tidal waters only;
  • Sections 9 and 10 (Utility and Stream crossings) if trenching or disturbing the stream bottom are required;
  • Sections 15, 16 and 20 (Public boat ramps, Activities in coastal dunes, Activities in existing developed areas located in/on/over high or moderate value inland waterfowl and wading bird habitat or Shoreland nesting, feeding and staging areas).

Is there a fee for Permit-by-Rule?

Yes. A fee is charged to cover program costs. Check with your nearest DEP office to determine the correct fee to enclose with your PBR form.

When can I begin work?

Upon DEP's receipt of a complete and accurate form, you may begin work after waiting 14 days if the DEP does not notify you otherwise. If the notice is found to be deficient, DEP will notify you within 14 days of receiving it.

DEP will not contact you unless the notice is deficient or it appears that your project does not qualify for Permit-by-Rule. However, a staff member from DEP, the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, or the Department of Marine Resources may inspect the site to determine if the work was carried out in compliance with the rule.

How long is the Permit valid?

The permit is valid for two years provided you comply with all the standards. Permits for replacement of structures (Section 4) are valid for three years. If your activity is not complete at that time, you may file another notice provided the activity can meet the Rule standards in place at that time.

If I qualify for Permit-by-Rule, do I need other permits?

Perhaps. Permit-by-Rule does not take the place of any other local, state, or federal approvals you may need. In specific instances, activities may require a shoreland zoning permit from your town, a lease from the Bureau of Public Lands (207-287-3061) (if your work extends onto state-owned submerged lands) or a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (207-623-8367).

What if I don't qualify for Permit-by-Rule?

If your activity does not qualify, you must file a complete application form for an individual permit under the NRPA. These forms are available from any DEP office.

Where can I get additional information?

For more information, contact a Land and Water Bureau staff member at the DEP office nearest you:

  • Augusta 17 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0017. (207) 287-7688. Toll free 1-800-452-1942.
  • Bangor 106 Hogan Road, Bangor , ME 04401. (207) 941-4570. Toll free 1-888-769-1137.
  • Portland 312 Canco Drive, Portland , ME 04103. (207) 822-6300. Toll free 1-888-769-1036.
  • Presque Isle 1235 Central Drive, Presque Isle, ME 04769-2094. (207) 764-0477. Toll free 1-888-769-1053

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