The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District announced that the USACE Montana Regulatory office will continue expediting and prioritizing permits for emergency-related actions in the aftermath of Montana’s severe storms and flood event in June. Regulatory personnel have been working extended hours to make sure emergency and non-emergency flood-damage repair and reconstruction work can be given the green light.
In the aftermath of flooding, Sage Joyce, Section Chief, USACE Montana Regulatory Office, deployed to serve as a regulatory liaison within Montana Disaster & Emergency Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Joint Field Office, which was established to support the state’s requests for recovery assistance.
Joyce served as part of the USACE technical team supporting the Joint Field Office mission and activities, providing regulatory permitting guidance, and at times, acted as a conduit to establish connections at the local, state and federal level. She and her team visited sites during the flooding and have since been out to multiple areas to assess the damages post-flooding.
“We’re asking landowners, county and local officials to contact us so we can work with them to determine what type of permits might be required. If their projects have or will impact waters of the U.S., then USACE permits are one of the requirements to comply with to receive funding from other agencies. Applicants need to contact our office and work through ‘after-the-fact’ permitting for any work already done, or apply for permits for proposed work within rivers, streams, and wetlands,” Joyce said.
The mission of the USACE Regulatory Program is to protect the nation's aquatic resources and navigable capacity while allowing economic development through fair and balanced decisions.
To help spread the word and educate the public on the permitting process, Joyce and her team have sent out messaging to county commissioners, floodplain administrators, conservation districts, and other local contacts providing general directions to follow. They also established project manager points of contact for each of the impacted counties and developed handout materials explaining the permitting process and regulatory program in general.
“Some common misperceptions are, that if someone has received local permitting then they’re good to go and do not need to come to our regulatory office. Or, that our ‘emergency procedures for permitting’ is a blanket-permit that covers whatever they did in response to the flooding,” Joyce said.
Joyce explained that after the historic June flooding they received almost 200 additional permit applications or requests. Due to this increase, and limited staffing, the processing of permits has been delayed. Fortunately, the USACE Regulatory program has many streamlined permitting authorities in place to expedite the review of projects and the Montana Office is working on finalizing its Regional General Permit 14 - Natural Disaster Mitigation & Emergency-Related Activities in Montana. In an effort to continue to provide the level of public support needed, their office has augmented its existing regulatory staff by reaching out for assistance to regulatory project managers in other states across the USACE Omaha District.
EMERGENCY ACTIONS AND EXPEDITED PERMIT REVIEWS
USACE characterizes an emergency as a situation which would result in an unacceptable hazard to life, a significant loss of property, or an immediate, unforeseen and significant economic hardship if no action is taken. In these situations, the District Engineer can authorize expedited reviews of permit applications.
You must notify the USACE Montana Regulatory Office of the need to perform emergency work before taking any action, if possible. Call the Regulatory Office, as soon as possible to discuss the situation. Alternatively, you may send your information to Montana.Reg@usace.army.mil for assistance.
All permit reviews, including emergency reviews, require coordination with tribes and state and federal agencies. In an emergency, reasonable effort will be made to receive comments from interest groups and others who may be affected by the action.
Applicants can use the USACE Regulatory’ s Federal Permit Application Form (ENG 4345), or the Montana Joint Application, which is accepted by all of the permitting and resource agencies.
The Montana Regulatory Office has transitioned to digital applications. Please submit electronic applications and other requests to: Montana.Reg@usace.army.mil
For question or additional information please contact the Montana Regulatory Office at Montana.Reg@usace.army.mil or (406) 441-1375.