Vermont Wetland Permit

Vermont state law requires permits for any alterations of “significant” wetlands subject to state jurisdiction. The current Vermont wetlands law (Act 31) amending statute 10 VSA Chapter 37, and subsequent Vermont Wetland Rules, came into effect in 2010. The program is administered by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) Wetlands Section.

When It Is Required

Any project disturbing “significant” wetlands must obtain a State Wetlands Permit. Before 2010, significant wetlands included only those with exceptional or irreplaceable value (Class I) or wetlands shown on Vermont Significant Wetland Inventory (VSWI) maps (Class II). The most recent statute and rules expanded the definition of Class II wetlands to include:

  • Wetlands that are on the VSWI maps

  • Wetlands that are contiguous to wetlands shown on VSWI maps

  • Wetlands of the same type (swamp, marsh, pond, etc.) or threshold size (at least 0.5 acre) as those mapped on VSWI maps

  • Wetlands with woody or dense persistent vegetation adjacent to water bodies

  • Vernal pools

  • Headwater wetlands

  • Wetlands with important water quality functions

  • Wetlands containing rare species

The state also regulates a 50-foot buffer zone around Class II wetlands and a 100-foot buffer zone around Class I wetlands.

Class III wetlands are those that are neither Class I nor Class II, have no regulated buffer zone, and are not typically regulated by the State.

Activities that are regulated include any alteration of significant wetlands. Allowed uses include maintenance, reconstruction, or routine repair of structures and facilities (including public transportation).

For information on which wetlands are subject to this program, what activities are subject to regulation, or how to identify the boundaries of wetlands and waterways, see the ANR website at http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/waterq/wetlands.htm.

Permit Process

There are two levels of wetland permits issued by the ANR, individual and general permits.

The Vermont Wetland General Permit (GP) has been issued by DEC for certain types of projects with limited impacts in certain types of wetlands. The GP is not applicable to Class I wetlands; wetlands with rare species; bogs, fens or vernal pools; and certain other wetland or project types. The GP requires that certain Best Management Practices are implemented. An application form, fee, plans and other materials must be submitted, but ANR must authorize (or deny) the work after a 10-day comment period. The maximum wetland impacts that are eligible for the GP are listed below.

Wetland or Buffer Type

Linear Projects – Total Area Impacted

Non-Linear Projects – Total Area Impacted

Managed Areas

<5,000 square feet

<3,000 square feet

Natural Areas

<3,000 square feet

<1,000 square feet

Surface Water Margins

<150 square feet – included in above totals

<150 square feet – included in above totals

Projects that affect more than this amount or do not meet other conditions of the GP require an Individual Permit. This also requires an application form, plans, fee, and other materials, and has a longer review and approval time frame. Compensation for impacts is also required, with no net loss of protected functions or acreage. The state has an agreement with Ducks Unlimited, a private non-profit conservation organization, establishing an “in-lieu fee” program which allows applicants to pay a fee based on the square footage of the project impact in lieu of providing traditional mitigation (such as wetland creation or restoration).

Permit applications are usually submitted as soon as the project footprint has been determined and wetland impacts can be estimated. This is typically during the preliminary design phase, after the project alignment, profile, and grading have been determined.

The Wetland Rules specify that the permit remains valid for at least one year or up to five years maximum. PGP Category 1 activities are supposed to be completed within one year of Notification Form submittal.

Related Regulations

Regulatory programs with overlapping jurisdiction with the Vermont Wetland Rules include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • Army Corps Section 404 is required for alterations to Waters of the U.S.

  • Section 401 Water Quality Certification: Water Quality Certification is required for projects requiring a Federal permit which involve discharges to water bodies or wetlands. Section 401 is administered by ANR, and requires a separate permit application with plans and details. Certification is usually issued in conjunction with either a State Wetlands Permit or a Stream Alteration Permit (Title 19).

For More Information

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

Wetlands Section

1 National Life Drive, Main 2

Montpelier, VT 05620-3522

802-828-1535

See the ANR Wetlands Section website for application forms and instructions, permit turnaround time frames, wetland delineation guidance, evaluation forms, detailed mitigation guidance, and the state General Permit:

http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/waterq/wetlands.htm