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Effects of Section 404 Permits on Wetlands in North Dakota

by

Natalie R. Sexton1

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
National Ecology Research Center
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525

GIF -- Drawing of Wetland

Abstract

I reviewed 87 wetland alterations from discharges of dredged or fill material in the prairie pothole region of North Dakota. The discharges were authorized by nationwide permits (NWP) 13, 14, and 26 and by individual permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act during 1987-1991. For each discharge, I assessed the magnitude and purpose, the affected wetland type, the compliance of the permit holder with the permit conditions, and the corps' acceptance of recommendations by resource agencies for special conditions for individual permits. Nearly 117,748 m3 of material were placed into wetlands by 42 discharges, 13 ha of wetlands were altered by 13 discharges, and 1,192 m of shoreline were modified by 15 discharges. Most discharges were made into palustrine and riverine wetlands. Compliance by permit holders with special conditions was 85%. The corps accepted 74% of the recommended special conditions by resource agencies for individual permits. Ninety percent of the special conditions of individual permits were implemented by applicants. The effect on any one wetland from a discharge authorized by NWP 13 or NWP 14 seems to have been minimal; however, cumulative effects were not determined. The types and sizes of discharges authorized by NWP 26 were variable and did not seem to meet certain regulatory requirements, for example, that they be similar in nature and have minimal individual and cumulative effects. Compliance by permit holders with permit conditions was greater than 75%. However, because some special conditions for individual permits pertained to implementation, compliance could not always be determined. More follow-up is needed of permitted discharges during and after implementation.

Key words: Clean Water Act, prairie potholes, Section 404, wetland losses, wetland permits, wetland alterations.


This resource is based on the following source:
Sexton, Natalie R.  1994.  Effects of section 404 permits on wetlands in North
     Dakota.  U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey,
     Washington, D.C.  Resource Publication 200. 16 pp.
This resource should be cited as:
Sexton, Natalie R.  1994.  Effects of section 404 permits on wetlands in North
     Dakota.  U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey,
     Washington, D.C.  Resource Publication 200.
     Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. 
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/wetlands/wetlperm/index.htm
     (Version 03JUN98).

Table of Contents

Introduction
Section 404 Regulations
Methods
File Examinations
Field Examinations
Results
Magnitude of Wetland Alterations
Purposes of Discharges and Affected Wetland Types
Compliance by Permit Holders
Mitigation
Nationwide Permit 13
Nationwide Permit 14
Nationwide Permit 26
Individual Permits
Discussion
Magnitude of Wetland Alterations
Compliance by Permit Holders
Nationwide Permits
Individual Permits
Conclusions
Acknowledgments
Cited Literature

List of Tables

Table 1 -- Number of discharges of fill material into wetlands.
Table 2 -- Comparisons of expected and observed wetland alterations from 70 discharges of fill material.
Table 3 -- Purpose of 87 discharges of fill material into wetlands.
Table 4 -- Compliance with special conditions for 87 discharges of fill material into wetlands.
Table 5 -- Recommended stipulations by federal and state resource agencies for 16 individual permits for discharges of fill material into wetlands.
Table 6 -- Implementation of special conditions by holders of 16 individual permits for discharges of fill material into wetlands.

List of Figures

Frontispiece -- Shorebirds feeding in an ephemeral wetland typical of North Dakota.
Figure 1 -- The prairie pothole region of North Dakota.
Figure 2 -- A bank stabilization.
Figure 3 -- A bridge replacement.
Figure 4 -- A discharge of fill material into a wetland.
Figure 5 -- A discharge of fill material into a wetland for a boating activity (development of a marina).
Figure 6 -- Locations of the 87 discharges reviewed for this study.
Figure 7 -- Wetland types affected by the 87 discharges of fill material into wetlands reviewed for this study.

1Present address: Johnson Controls World Services Inc., P.O. Box 270308, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80527
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