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Last week we talked about how stream regulations protect people, and what NOT to do in streams.  This week’s topic is about how to get permits when stream work IS needed.  The first call you should always make with any stream work questions is to the Conservation District at (570) 485-3144.  

Immediately after flooding events, there are often free Emergency Permits available.  These permits allow removal of gravel, repair of stream banks, and more.  Another benefit of EP’s is that they often authorize more work to be done in the stream than the typical every-day permits that you can apply for.  Emergency Permits must be authorized by DEP, but often Conservation District staff will come meet with you to speed the process along and ensure that the permit is completed correctly.  This facilitates a quick turnaround time from DEP!  The biggest limitation of an EP is that you only have 60 days to get the work done once the permit is authorized, although extensions (in-writing) can be granted by DEP.  Emergency Permits are usually only offered for a short time after an emergency event, so don’t wait too long to apply for one.

General Permits are available every day at the conservation district.  These permits do come with a state mandated fee (municipalities are exempt from fees), but Conservation District staff are available to assist with filling them out and completing the process quickly.  

There are many different types of General Permits, but the most common permit that we assist with is called a GP-3; for gravel removal and steam bank protection.  This permit allows removal of gravel bars up to 250’ in length.  Technically up to 500’ of gravel removal can be permitted, but any gravel removal over 250’ in length must undergo extended review and approval by the Army Corps of Engineers.  Gravel is only allowed to be removed down to six inches above the water level at the time the work is being completed (no dredging, remember?) so work at low flow!  GP-3’s also allows placement of stream bank protection up to 500’ in length.

If you need a GP-3, simply take two pictures of the work area; one from upstream and one from downstream.  While you are at it, get some rough estimates of length/width/depth of the work area.  That is basically all the info you need to bring with you!  The permit fee is $250 (cash or check, NO cards) and there is a $40 online fee (must have credit or debit card).  We will help you fill out the permit, as well as complete the required online information.  Staff is typically available to help you with permitting, but it never hurts to call ahead and set up an appointment before heading over to the Conservation District office.

The question “How do I get a permit?” is usually closely followed by “How am I going to pay for this stream work?”  Often there is no funding available, but during the month of September 2019 the Bradford County Conservation District is taking applications for a grant that the Bradford County Commissioners received to do stream bank repairs, through the County Initiative program.  Applications are available at the Commissioner’s Office, the Conservation District, and our webpage www.bccdpa.com.  Applications will be ranked in October.  Priority will be given to sites where a home, business, sole access to a home or business, or utility is threatened, however all stream bank erosion problems will be considered.  Funding is awarded to the highest-ranking sites and will proceed down the list until funding is expended.  

As pointed out in last week’s article, Pennsylvania DEP does care about people.  DEP has a Stream Improvement Program that puts funding toward protecting homes and businesses from streambank erosion, as funds allow.  Stream bank erosion within 50’ of a primary residence or business can be considered for the program.  The first step is to call the Conservation District!

The last option for permitting stream work is brand new - a free Emergency Permit available through the Bradford County Conservation District!  This is a test run of a tool developed by the conservation district, called Emergency Stream Intervention (ESI).  Check in with us next week for a more detailed look at Emergency Stream Intervention, and when and where it applies!

The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely.  You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.