DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
FOR INTERAGENCY WETLANDS POLICY ACT OF 1989
document is the Illinois Department
of Natural Resources (Department) Agency Action Plan for the
Interagency Wetlands Policy Act of1989. The
purpose of an AAP is to articulate how the Act will be implemented
in the context of an agency's policies and activities. This publication
is intended to serve as a handbook regarding the Act for Department
major federal regulatory tool for wetland protection is Section
404 of the Clean Water Act, administered by the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency. Under Section 404, it is necessary
to secure a permit to discharge dredged or fill materials into waters
of the United States, including most wetlands. However, the Section
404 program is not a comprehensive wetlands program in that many
activities that may damage or destroy wetlands are not covered by
the program. In addition, Section 404 mitigation requirements are
not standardized and therefore may not achieve the no net loss goal.
And finally, the State of Illinois is served by five U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers Districts which results in five variants of the same
program. These weaknesses in the federal program lead to support
for passage of the Interagency Wetlands Policy Act of 1989.
Interagency Wetlands Policy Act of 1989
The Illinois Interagency Wetlands Policy Act of 1989
[20 ILCS 830 et seq.] is intended to ensure that there is no overall net
loss of the State's existing wetland acres or their functional values
resulting from State-supported activities. A "wetland" is defined by the
Act as being "land that has a predominance of hydric soils (soils which
are usually wet and where there is little or no free oxygen) and that
is inundated or saturated at a frequency and duration sufficient to support,
and that under normal circumstances does support, a prevalence of hydrophytic
vegetation (plants typically found in wet habitats) typically adapted
for life in saturated soil conditions." (20 ILCS 830/1-6)
Prior to European settlement, wetlands covered about
8.2 million acres of Illinois or about 23 percent of the land. (Havera
1985) The Act cites the loss of a significant portion of the State's original
wetland acres and the associated loss of the many environmental, economic
and social values that wetlands provide, as the basis for this "no net
loss" goal. (20 ILCS 830/1-2)
Currently, about 3.5 percent (1.25 million acres) of
the state land cover is classified as wetland. However, only 917,765 acres
(approximately three-quarters) of the currently existing wetlands can
be considered natural wetlands. These natural wetlands most closely represent
what remains of the State's original wetlands. The other quarter of the
wetland acres have been modified or created by dikes, impoundments, or
excavation activities. Although all types of wetlands are protected by
the Act, modified or artificial wetlands do not always provide the full
range of values given by natural wetlands. (Suloway and Hubbell1994)
The Act charges State agencies with a further duty to
"preserve, enhance and create wetlands where necessary to increase the
quality and quantity of the State's wetland resource base." (20 ILCS 830/1-4)
Areas which have been restored or created as the result of mitigation
or planned construction projects, and which function as wetlands, are
also defined as wetlands under the Act even when all three wetland parameters
- hydric soils, wetland hydrology, and hydrophytic vegetation - are not
The Act applies to all State and State-funded activities
with the exception of a few specific types of activities addressed in
the Act and in the administrative rules which were
promulgated to implement and administer it. An extensive discussion of
what types of activities are exempted and non-exempted is presented in
The Act established the Interagency Wetlands Committee
to advise the Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources(Director)
in the administration of the Act. The coordination functions of the Committee
are discussed in detail in Chapter 5. The Committee is chaired by the
Director or an appointed representative, and is composed of directors
or their representatives from the following State agencies: Capital Development
Board, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce and Community
Affairs, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency,
and the Historic Preservation Society.
In 1995 the Departments of Conservation, Energy and Natural
Resources, and Mines and Minerals along with the Office of Water Resources,
were merged to form the IDNR. See Appendix C for a Department organizational
chart. The legislation which created the new Department provided for the
old Departments of Mines and Minerals and Energy and Natural Resources
to maintain their positions on the Committee when they became Offices
within the Department.
The Act is to be implemented through a State Wetland
Mitigation Policy and through Agency Action Plans. The State Wetland Mitigation
Policy, as defined in Article III of the Act, requires preservation of
wetlands as the primary objective. Where adverse wetland impacts are unavoidable,
progressive levels of compensation based upon the level of impact to the
existing wetland and the location of compensation wetlands are required.
This topic is discussed further in Chapter 6.
Each agency which is represented on the Interagency Wetlands
Committee is required to produce an Agency Action Plan and to update their
plans every four years thereafter. State agencies who are not members
of the Interagency Wetlands Committee may comply with the Act by developing
a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department that is consistent
with the minimum requirements for Agency Action Plans or by developing
an Agency Action Plan. The Act requires each Agency Action Plan or MOA
to be reviewed and approved by the Department of Natural Resources before
being submitted to the Governor.
IV. Overview of the IDNR AAP
Chapter 1 presents the components of the AAP mandated
in the Act and administrative rules, and the duties
of the lead Offices. The Act and the administrative rules [17 ADC§1090
et seq.] are reprinted in the Appendices A and B, respectively.
2 presents a summary of Department management activities
and policies regarding land acquisition and land use. The Department's
mission is to promote an appreciation of the state's natural resources
and to work with the people of Illinois to protect and manage those
resources to ensure a high quality of life for present and future
generations. Department programs address a wide scope of activities
ranging from developing recreational facilities on public lands
to protecting natural areas. The Department manages game and fish
populations, while protecting endangered plant and animal species,
and it regulates the state's mineral extraction industries and construction
in public bodies of water. The Department is very active in the
preservation, enhancement, and creation of wetlands in the state
and is involved in numerous programs involving wetlands. A description
of the Department programs involving wetlands is included in Appendix
3 and 4 provide important policy direction and Department staff
are requested to read them carefully.
3 provides a description of how to perform an alternatives
analysis and reviews the sequencing requirements of the Act. The
best way to meet the no net loss goal is to integrate the concepts
of impact avoidance and impact minimization during the early planning
stages of a project. Department staff should be aware of what resources,
including wetlands, are present on the lands they manage. If you
need help understanding or complying with any of the provisions
contained in the Act or Administrative Rules, a list of contacts
is provided in Appendix E.
analysis involves the evaluation of several different options for
achieving the goals of your project. This is best accomplished at
the project development stage. Alternatives analysis is not intended
to be used "after the fact" to support a preferred course of action
or project design. Section 17 ADC§1909.60 of the administrative
rules for the Act states that sponsors of projects which will have
adverse wetland impacts must demonstrate that the activity: 1) is
water dependent and has no other practicable alternative; or is
not water dependent and that the alternative designs and alternative
sites are not available; and 2)minimizes alteration or impairment
of the wetland and its associated buffer area.
Since the Department
is charged with the implementation of the Act, our policy is to
exercise great care in formulating alternatives for IDNR actions.
Department staff will fully evaluate and document alternatives to
meet the spirit and intent of this requirement of the ACT. Further
, the Department will take all possible steps to avoid or minimize
adverse impacts to existing wetlands. If you need assistance in
performing an alternatives analysis for your project, contact either
the Office of Realty and Environmental Planning (217) 785-5500 or
the Wetland Program Administrator in the Office of Resource Conservation
4 provides guidance to all Department staff on tools available
to help determine if a wetland is present at a proposed project
site and on determining whether a proposed activity is exempt from
the Act or if it requires review. Department policy regarding "programmatic
actions" has also been explained. The goal of the chapter is to
provide consistent direction on how to comply with the Act within
the context of day-to-day Departmental activities.
provides a list of exempted and non-exempted activities as identified
in the Act and the administrative rules, along with examples. The
examples used have been compiled from the experiences of people
within the Department and are meant to illustrate typical or, or
in some cases, especially problematic situations. The examples are
NOT meant to be inclusive; that is, don't assume that these are
the only examples of each activity being discussed.
maintenance and repair activities are exempt from the Act, please
be sure to read Figure 4.1 "What constitutes repair or maintenance?"
on page 24 for further classification. If there is any doubt whether
your project is exempt, assume that it should be submitted for review
under the Act.
5 discusses the coordination mechanisms and processes which
are required by the Act. The first section describes wetlands-specific
coordination mechanisms, including the Interagency Wetlands Committee,
the Governor's Natural Resources Coordination Council, and the Illinois
Wetlands Conservation Strategy.
section of Chapter 5 gives a brief overview of the Department's
Comprehensive Environmental Review Process (CERP) and outlines CERP
procedures. The guidelines for CERP are included in Appendix F.
Departmental compliance with the Act has been greatly simplified
by utilizing the existing CERP Program. The second section also
explains that the review procedure for the Act is integrated with
the review procedures for projects covered by the Illinois Endangered
Species Protection Act and the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory
Consultation Process. The Division of Natural Resource Review and
Coordination has developed an expedited review process for certain
technical assistance programs. Please refer to Figure 5.1 on page
39 for more information.
The third section
of Chapter 5 outlines the Department's coordination regarding the
Act with entities outside the Department, including the Historic
Preservation Agency Cultural Resources Program, the federal Corps
of Engineers Section 404 Program, the Illinois Department of Agricultural
Prime Farmland Program, and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement
6 explains the key implementation programs and policies
related to the Act. Departmental policies regarding wetland impact
determinations, wetland compensation plans, wetland compensation
accounts (mitigation banks), and monitoring
and performance standards are discussed.
7 provides Department staff with resources and procedures for
obtaining technical assistance they may need to comply with the Act. A
variety of technical assistance is available to Offices and Divisions,
both from within the Department and, in certain cases, from outside consultants.
The Department is the agency charged with implementing
the Interagency Wetlands Policy Act of 1989. With the broad range of land
management activities in which the Department participates and responsibility
for more than 400,000 acres of the public lands in Illinois, it is important
that the Department follow both the letter and the intent of the Act.
The Act was written to provide consistent standard to evaluate project
impacts for ALL projects and ALL agencies. The Department policy
will be to adhere to the highest standard for our actions which are governed
by the Act. Every effort will be made to avoid adverse wetlands
impacts associated with Department projects. Department staff will thoroughly
evaluate all alternatives which would reduce adverse impacts to a wetland.
In the rare cases where an adverse wetland impact cannot be avoided, Department
policy will be to take all possible measures to minimize the adverse impact
and to compensate for the loss. Opportunities for increasing the quantity
and quality of the State's wetlands should be considered for all projects
authorized or funded by the Department and such opportunities should be
implemented whenever possible.
| Represented Agencies |
Agency Action Plans | Interagency Wetlands Policy
Act of 1989 | Administrative Rules
Return to Wetlands Homepage