September 3, 20190

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the RI Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) have developed revised freshwater wetlands rules needed to implement the findings and recommendations of a legislative task force that examined the adequacy of freshwater wetlands protection in R.I. The state Freshwater Wetlands law was previously amended to achieve two important goals: strengthen wetlands protection and streamline the permitting processes for development and other activities conducted in proximity to freshwater wetlands. More specifically, amendments to the law expanded state jurisdiction over lands near wetland resources and mandated that the agencies (DEM and CRMC) develop standards for wetland buffers taking into account resource characteristics, watershed protection needs, and existing land use.

DEM and CRMC have jointly developed preliminary draft rules, which are now being shared publicly for the purpose of soliciting further feedback.  To date, the rule development process has included a variety of data analyses as well as meetings with various interested stakeholders that assisted the agencies in producing the draft rules.  DEM and CRMC are using the same terms and language in their draft rules with respect to freshwater wetlands protection, including the new buffer standards. However, the rules also have some differences which are necessary to reflect the respective agency procedures and authorities as prescribed in state law.

A summary of the major rule changes and a copy of the draft revised DEM rules are attached. A draft of CRMC’s freshwater wetlands in the vicinity of the coast regulations will be available via the agency’s website. The agencies are jointly hosting a public workshop to provide an opportunity to learn more about the draft rules and provide the agencies with input. The workshop provides an opportunity for public input in advance of the formal rule-making process; e.g. public notice and hearing.

DATE: Wednesday, September 11, 2019
TIME: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
WHERE: RI Department of Environmental Management, Cafeteria – Room 390, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI  02908
Directions: http://www.dem.ri.gov/directions/foundry-offices.php

DEM is interested in your feedback and will accept written comments on the draft DEM rules through Wednesday, September 25, 2019.  Comments should be submitted by email to the DEM at WaterResources@dem.ri.gov or mailed to:

RIDEM/Office of Water Resources
235 Promenade Street
Providence, RI 02908
Attn: D. Cullinan

Click here to review the Summary of Wetlands Rule Changes

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