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R.A. Smith National, Inc. Knowledge Blog

Seasonal Wetlands Provide Critical Habitat for Wildlife

by Heather Patti 24. April 2013 07:25

Scattered across the Upper Midwest are thousands of small seasonally wet areas that may only be saturated or hold water from late fall to late spring or early summer. Seasonal wetlands (also known as “vernal ponds”) result from winter snowmelt and spring rains, and typically occur in depressional areas in woods and open fields. By mid-summer, most seasonal wetlands have dried out or are just barely moist. Some are almost indiscernible across the landscape.

Although many of these seasonal wetlands may be less than an acre or even a half-acre in size, they provide an important food source for migratory birds, waterfowl, breeding and feeding areas for amphibians and reptiles, and critical winter food supplies for turkey, deer and other birds and mammals.

There are many different types of seasonal wetlands including seasonally flooded basins, farmed depressions, hardwood swamps, springs and seeps, and lake plain prairies. If you are lucky enough to own any of these seasonal wetlands, you will notice they are used by a wide variety of wildlife.  Seasonal wetlands are gaining recognition as important habitats because of their unique role in the landscape, their valuable wetland function, and the critical habitat they provide for wildlife.

If you have any questions about seasonal wetlands, wetland delineation or the current wetland permitting process, the ecologists at R.A. Smith National can provide the assistance you need.  Please contact Heather Patti at (262) 317-3361 or Tina Myers at (262) 317-3389.

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Stay Connected on WDNR Wetland and Waterway Permitting Changes

by Tina Myers 25. February 2013 08:30

There have been many changes over the past year regarding the WDNR’s wetland and waterway permitting process.  For example, DNR launched an electronic online permitting system for Individual Permits (IP) about a year ago which helped streamline the permitting process.  While many activities have an online process currently available, there are still some activities that do not. If you have a project planned, it is important to check the website for updates. A link to the WDNR’s article regarding this new online system can be found here:

Here’s another brief update regarding General Permits (GPs) for wetland disturbance:  In addition to Individual Permits (IPs) for wetland disturbance, there are also currently two types of GP applications available that are specific to project type; one of them is for “Commercial, Residential, and Industrial” projects, while the other is for “Municipal Highways, Bridges, Arches, and Culverts.”  We can expect to see other GPs specific to “Recreational Use” and “Utilities” hopefully in the near future.  For those familiar with the Practicable Alternatives Analysis (PAA) process pertaining to wetland disturbance, there are also activity-based PAA Supplements currently being drafted by the WDNR that should also soon become available.  These supplements will help guide applicants through the wetland impact avoidance/minimize analysis which must be considered by each applicant.  For more information about wetland permits click on this link:

If you have any questions about the current permit process or need wetlands and waterways delineated for your project, the ecologists at R.A. Smith National can provide the assistance you need.  Please contact Tina Myers at (262) 317-3389 or Heather Patti at (262) 317-3361.

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WDNR Puts Online Permit System In Place

by Heather Patti 2. August 2012 04:54

The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources is setting up a new online permit system for some state water-related permits. WDNR water officials state that the new system will reduce paperwork and deliver quicker and more consistent permit decisions, while protecting lakes, rivers and wetlands. 

The online permit system has several different parts that are being phased in over the next year, so check back often as the system will be updated periodically. For the first time, applicants can now find 72 of the nearly 100 water-related permit applications on the same web page.

And, applicants for three of the most popular permit types can now fill out their applications, pay fees and track the progress of their applications online! The three permit types which are now ready for online processing are:  individual permits for wetland and waterway projects, permit applications for wastewater pit trench de-watering, and permit applications for aquatic plant management on private ponds. Several more are soon to come! These include wetland and waterway general permits, storm water construction site and Confined Animal Waste Operation (CAFO) permits.  More details are available in DNR’s media release.

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Spring Has Sprung; Think Wetland Delineations

by Heather Patti 19. March 2012 08:01

Happy Spring! The fieldwork season for wetland delineations is quickly approaching. Wetland delineations must be conducted during the “growing season” – which has many definitions. Both the traditional agricultural usage of the frost-free period and scientists’ concept of biological zero are included in the definition of “growing season.”

Since we usually lack direct soil temperature data, agency guidance allows for field observations of above-ground plant growth to estimate the onset of the growing season. Here’s what I look for – if above-ground plant growth (known as “green out”) is readily observable in the form of bud burst on woody plants, emergence of herbaceous plants from the ground, or opening of flowers, then I know the growing season has sprung!



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