By Rob Wayne
Wetland delineation may not be most people’s favorite topic to research. But if you are involved in any way in developing projects that affect the sites where they are proposed, wetland delineations can have unexpected impacts when they are required for your project. For the unfamiliar, wetlands – a k a bogs, swamps, and marshes – represent critical natural resources. They’re a unique ecosystem that provides many ecological services, including water purification, carbon sequestration, and flood control.
About the Expert:
Rob Wayne is an environmental scientist with 8 years wetland experience related to delineation, mitigation and permitting. Rob has conducted over 150 wetland delineations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa since 2016. He is an Assured Wetland Delineator through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He is also a certified Karner Blue Butterfly surveyor with experience with local, state and federal environmental permitting.
What’s wetland delineation, you ask? It’s a process for identifying the presence of a wetland and its boundaries. It helps to establish jurisdiction and mitigate adverse impacts caused by future development. Through a combination of fieldwork and data analysis, wetland delineators can define and map the boundaries of the wetlands on a property and generate a wetland delineation report, which requires regulatory approval.
In Wisconsin, this can entail a review period of up to 60 growing-season days and a cost of $300 per 20 acres. That review period could result in delays and additional expenses for a project. That is, unless you have a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) assured wetland delineator working on your behalf.
What is a WDNR Assured Wetland Delineation?
The WDNR established the Assured Wetland Delineator Program for highly experienced professional wetland delineators who meet strict qualifications. Assured delineators must have applicable education, training, and experience and meet required performance standards annually to maintain assured status. The WDNR’s assurance program aims to provide a high level of certainty about wetland boundaries for project planning and save time in the state review of wetland boundaries while enhancing wetland protection.
Why Does Using an Assured Delineator Save Time and Money?
An assured delineation provides automatic concurrence/approval, eliminating the WDNR review time for wetland boundaries and avoiding delays in the permitting process. Non-assured delineators must submit wetland delineation reports to the WDNR for field verification, which costs $300 per 20 acres, and the WDNR legally has 60 growing-season days to conduct the field verification. Assured delineators are highly sought after during the late summer/fall months when projects are fighting the end of the growing season. Delineations conducted by non-assured delineators at the end of the growing season risk not receiving WDNR field verification until the next spring if the agency is busy. Non-assured delineations also typically are required to meet the WDNR for field verification, which adds another cost.
Does Your Project Require a Wetland Delineation or Permit?
Sometimes it can be straightforward to distinguish wetlands from upland areas (i.e., the existence of standing water and wetland plants). Other areas meet state and federal definitions of wetlands while not exhibiting visible wetland characteristics as judged by the untrained eye. Altering, draining, or filling wetlands can trigger expensive legal repercussions and require lengthy mitigation measures. If you want to know whether you have wetlands within your project site, reach out to Ayres’ environmental scientists, who will help you determine the presence of regulated wetlands. A desktop review of available mapping of wetlands, soils, and aerial imagery can aid in determining if a wetland delineation is required. If it is determined that wetlands are likely present, Ayres’ assured delineator can perform an expedited wetland delineation to keep your project on schedule.
Ayres’ experts work with clients to preserve and protect wetlands and mitigate unavoidable damage or encroachment. For more information, contact environmental scientist Rob Wayne, WDNR Assured Wetland Delineator.