Doing work in or near a stream? You’ll need a permit for that.
Montana ’s Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act, also known as the 310 Law, is a state law which requires that any person planning to work in or near a perennial stream or river on private or public land must first obtain a 310 Permit from the local conservation district.
The purpose of the 310 Law is to insure that projects on perennial streams will be carried out in ways that are not damaging to the stream, its banks or to adjoining landowners. The Eastern Sanders Conservation District (ESCD) administers the 310 law in Eastern Sanders County. There is no fee for the 310 permit. A project that would need a 310 permit is: “Any activity that results in a change in the state of a natural perennial-flowing stream or river, it’s bed, or it’s immediate banks.” Some examples of projects needing a 310 permit include:
- Culverts & Bridges
- Dams & Ponds
- Stream Bank Protection/Stabilization Projects
- Boat Ramps & Docks
- Fences & Decks
During the 310-permitting process, at least one conservation district supervisor and a representative from Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) inspect the proposed project site with the applicant and make recommendations to the Conservation District Board. Supervisors & FWP use six main criteria to determine the possible effects of proposed projects. They include the effects of soil erosion and sedimentation; the risk of flooding or erosion problems upstream or downstream; the effects of stream channel alterations; the impacts on stream flow, turbidity, or water quality caused by materials used or by removal of ground cover; and the effects on fish and aquatic habitat. The final consideration is whether there are reasonable alternatives which will reduce disturbance to a stream or better accomplish the purpose of the project.
In Case of Emergency
The 310 Law contains a provision to handle actions necessary to safeguard life or property, including growing crops, during emergencies. The emergency form is available on this Web site or from the ESCD office. If you must take emergency action, notify the ESCD in writing within 15 days of the action taken explaining what was done and why. The emergency action will be reviewed by the ESCD, which will decide whether the action was appropriate, must be modified, or must be removed and/or replaced.
Activities Without a Permit
It is a misdemeanor to initiate a project without a permit; to conduct activities outside the scope of the permit, to violate emergency procedures, or to use prohibited materials in a project. Upon conviction of a misdemeanor, a person may be punished by a fine up to $500 or by a civil penalty not to exceed $500 per day for each day the person continues to alter the stream. In addition, at the discretion of the court, the person may be required to restore the damaged stream as recommended by the ESCD to as near its prior condition as possible.
If you would like to report an activity that may be a violation of the 310 law, please fill out the Complaint/violation form and mail it to the ESCD. You can download a complaint/violation form from this Web site, or contact the ESCD. Also, if you would like information on current permits please contact our office.