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Rules and Regulations

New Freshwater Wetlands Rules

a painted turtle suns itself on a fallen log across wetlands at Wickaboxet Management Area in West GreenwichImportant Update: The DEM has promulgated new Freshwater Wetlands rules (250-RICR-150-15-3) that postpone the effective date for implementing the rules to July 1, 2022. Until that date, the existing Freshwater Wetlands Rules (250-RICR-150-15-1) remain in place. Due to requirements of the Secretary of State, the new rules have been re-numbered as Part 3 and pursuant to Sections 3.19 and 3.20 ("Effective Date"), have been modified to specify and align with the new effective date of July 1, 2022.

To support the transition to the new rules, DEM will post information of the implementation of the new rules on our website. DEM, in collaboration with the RI Coastal Resources Management Council, has planned a series of training workshops. Use the link below for more information on Training and Guidance including the schedule for upcoming workshops and archived training materials.

Learn More about Training Workshops and Guidance Materials

DEM has established a form for submitting questions about the new rules. Persons are encouraged to submit questions in advance of training workshops to assist DEM in planning the content of the workshops.

Submit a Question Regarding the New Freshwater Wetlands Rules

Proposed Freshwater Wetlands General Permit & Public Comment Period

Section 3.10 of the New Freshwater Wetlands Rules (250-RICR-150-15-3) creates a Freshwater Wetlands General Permit. DEM may issue the Freshwater Wetlands General Permit for limited projects that meet certain eligibility requirements and that:

  • a) involve the same or similar types and areas of alteration or impacts;
  • b) occur only within the jurisdictional area identified in the general permit;
  • c) involve similar land uses; and that
  • d) in the opinion of the Department are more appropriately authorized under a general permit than under individual Freshwater Wetlands Permits.

RI DEM is now proposing the Freshwater Wetlands General Permit with a public comment period from July 29, 2022 through September 12, 2022. Additional information regarding the proposed Freshwater Wetlands General Permit, the public comment period, and supporting documents can be accessed using the bulleted list below:


Overview of New Freshwater Wetlands Rules

The final rules implement amendments to state law aimed at strengthening wetland protection, providing clarity and predictability and streamlining the permitting processes for development and other activities conducted in proximity to freshwater wetlands. Amendments to state law expanded the jurisdiction of DEM and the RI Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) over lands near freshwater wetland resources and mandated that the Agencies develop a common set of standards for freshwater wetland buffers taking into account resource protection needs, watershed protection needs and existing land use.

Rulemaking Updates

Current Rulemaking Actions
Direct Filing of Proposed Changes to 250-RICR-150-15-3: DEM has filed an amendment to eliminate the additional fee for variances included in the Table 2 in Rule 3.8.9 and to make technical corrections to cross-references to CRMC rules in the Definition section (Rule 3.4). The Public Comment period for this rule change ends on July 15, 2022. Applicants filing after July 1,2022 are advised at this time to not include the variance fee when submitting applications to the Department.

Public Notice of Direct Rule Filing – June 15, 2022
Proposed Rule Change

The substance of the new Part 3 freshwater wetlands rules remains the same as the rules filed with Secretary of State in July 2021. Those freshwater wetlands rules were the subject of an earlier public notice issued November 23, 2020 and a public hearing held January 6, 2021. Based on public comment, DEM made minor revisions and clarifications to the proposed rules before finalizing the rules with the Secretary of State (250-RICR-150-15-2). The Part 2 rules have been superseded by the Part 3 rules and will be repealed. Additional guidance and information will be forthcoming.

Prior Rulemaking Actions
Part 3 Freshwater Wetland Rules (250-RICR-150-15-3)
Part 2 Freshwater Wetlands Rules (250-RICR-150-15-2)Repealed effective 4/10/2022. This rule is no longer active.