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Second Regular Session of the 122nd

H.P. 1465 - L.D. 2071

An Act To Increase Wetland Protection

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

     Sec. 1. 38 MRSA §480-X, sub-§2, as amended by PL 2003, c. 554, §1, is further amended to read:

     2. Three-tiered review process; tiers defined. Except as provided in subsection 1, an application for a permit to undertake activities altering freshwater wetlands must be reviewed in accordance with the following.

If the project as a whole requires Tier 2 or Tier 3 review, then any activity that is part of the overall project and involves a regulated freshwater wetland alteration also requires the same higher level of review, unless otherwise authorized by the department.
In determining the amount of freshwater wetland to be altered, all components of a project, including all phases of a multiphased project, are treated together as constituting one single and complete project. Activity authorized or legally conducted prior to the effective date of this section is not included.
The standards of section 480-D do not apply to projects that qualify for Tier 1 review, except that habitat standards under section 480-D, subsection 3 and water quality standards under section 480-D, subsection 5 apply to those projects. Projects that meet the eligibility requirements for Tier 1 review and that satisfy the permitting requirements set forth in subsection 3 and 6, as applicable, are presumed not to have significant environmental impact.

     Sec. 2. 38 MRSA §480-X, sub-§6, ¶B, as amended by PL 1999, c. 243, §13, is further amended to read:

     Sec. 3. 38 MRSA §480-Z, 4th ¶, as enacted by PL 1997, c. 101, §1 and affected by §2, is amended to read:

     A project undertaken pursuant to this section must be approved by the department. The department shall base its approval of a compensation project on the wetland management priorities identified by the department for the watershed or biophysical region in which the project is located. The department may not approve a compensation project until the applicant has complied with all other applicable provisions of this article and all applicable rules adopted by the department pursuant to this article. For purposes of this section, "biophysical region" means a region with shared characteristics of climate, geology, soils and natural vegetation.

     Sec. 4. 38 MRSA §480-Z, sub-§3, ¶A, as amended by PL 2003, c. 245, §8, is further amended to read:

     Sec. 5. Rules regarding wetland compensation. The Department of Environmental Protection shall amend the rules regarding wetland compensation to require wetland compensation for 15,000 square feet or more of impact to freshwater wetlands. Rules adopted pursuant to this section are routine technical rules as defined in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.

Effective August 23, 2006.

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