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IDNR is the state agency with the most direct regulatory authority over wetlands in Illinois. The primary authority of this agency is established in the Interagency Wetlands Policy Act of 1989. This Act provides the Department with regulatory authority over State activities that affect wetlands. Peripheral authority is provided in the Rivers, Lakes, and Streams Act which provides the Department with regulatory authority over activities in floodplains.

The Interagency Wetlands Policy Act of 1989 (IWPA) established the state goal that there be, "no overall net loss of the state's existing wetland acres or their functional values due to state supported activities" (State of Illinois 1989). With the passage of this Act in 1989, Illinois became only the second state to adopt a "no net loss goal" in legislation. Currently, 18 states have officially adopted such a goal either in a state statute or some other official document (Taylor and Abderhalden 1997).

To accomplish this goal, the Act established a review process for all projects being pursued by a state agency or otherwise being accomplished with state funds, that have the potential to adversely affect a wetland. This review consists of a two part process. Projects must first be reviewed by the Division of Ecosystems and Environment to confirm if a wetland impact will occur. If it is determined there will not be an impact, the project will be approved and funds may be released. If it is determined an impact is going to occur, the entity requesting approval must prepare a plan which details how it will compensate for the impact before the project may move forward (State of Illinois 1989).

All compensation plans must be approved by IDNR. The administrative rules of the IWPA establish guidelines for these compensation plans and include a set of pre-described mitigation ratios which must be followed. No project adversely affecting a wetland may receive state funds unless a completed compensation plan which follows the guidelines set in the IWPA receives approval from IDNR. Approval is issued for a project, it is valid for three years. If the applicant lets this authorization expire before initiating the permitted activity, the proposal must be resubmitted for approval before the activity may commence (State of Illinois 1989).

As with the other wetland regulatory programs, numerous activities are exempted from complying with the provisions of the IWPA. Some of these exemptions are wide-ranging and are specified in the administrative rules. Many more exceptions are agency specific and are contained in individual agency MOAs or Agency Action Plans (AAPs) that have been developed with IDNR. When discerning if an activity must undergo the review process, each state agency operates and coordinates with IDNR according to its AAP or MOA (State of Illinois 1989).

As with the other wetland regulatory programs applicable in Illinois, this program has numerous exemptions. In northeastern Illinois, the repair, remodeling and maintenance of buildings and structures in existence prior to November 18, 1987 are exempted activities. Throughout downstate Illinois, activities such as the installation of field tile systems, tile outlet structures, and irrigation equipment; brush and debris removal; routine maintenance and repair of existing structures, maintenance and repair of artificially altered stream channels; and the installation of fences in rural areas are exempted (State of Illinois 1989).

Individuals or organizations are to be made aware by the agency through which they are applying for funding, if their project is exempt from this regulation. If it is not, that agency is to facilitate their participation in the review process and development of a compensation plan. If persons are uncertain if the activity they are participating in has been approved by IDNR; or if an activity for which they hope to receive funding will require IDNR approval, they should contact either the funding agency or IDNR directly.       

[ Introduction   | Section 404 Program  |  Nationwide Permits & General Conditions | Section 401 Program |Critical Resource Waters |  Swampbuster Prog.  | Interagency Wetlands Policy Act of 1989  |  Rivers, Lakes & Streams Act  | Wetland Detmermination & Delineations |Conclusion ]

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