15-01: Clarification and coordination of 310 and floodplain permitting

WHEREAS, conservation districts supervisors are statutorily authorized to work with land occupiers, local governments and state governments on projects and works, and to exercise their duties and responsibilities under the Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act of 1975 (310 Law); and

WHEREAS, the legislature, mindful of its constitutional obligation under Article II, section 3, and Article IX of the Montana constitution, enacted the 310 Law with the intent that the 310 Law provides adequate remedies for the protection of the environmental life support system from degradation and provides adequate remedies to prevent unreasonable depletion and degradation of natural resources;

WHEREAS, conservation districts, when administering the 310 Law , often encourage applicants to limit the use of rock riprap when other bank stabilization methods are available that minimize impacts to stream form and function; and

WHEREAS, the joint permitting application process used in administering the 310 Law is often complicated and cumbersome to the applicant when dealing with multiple agencies; and

WHEREAS, in designated floodplains applicants for stream bank projects using soft approaches or willow lift projects are required to provide engineering proof that the project will withstand 100-year flood forces; and

WHEREAS, the additional expenses involved with engineering and modeling in the designated floodplains often prove to be too expensive to allow projects to be completed; and

WHEREAS, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) floodplain model rules encourage that all other necessary permits be issued prior to the issuance of a floodplain permit; and

WHEREAS, DNRC houses both the Conservation District Bureau, which provides assistance to conservation districts, and the Water Operations Bureau, which provides assistance to local floodplain administrators;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) work with DNRC to develop an amendment to the floodplain rules allowing an exemption from engineering requirements for such stabilization projects.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that MACD work with DNRC to provide outreach to floodplain administrators and conservation districts about the appropriate timing of the permitting process.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that MACD work with DNRC to find solutions to the engineering requirements and permitting delays.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, if deemed necessary, MACD pursue legislative action to change floodplain statutes to address these concerns.