Natural Resources Newsletter
April, 2015
Spring is here and it won't be long before the wood frog wakes up from his winter hibernation and heads back to the pool!
Is it Jurisdictional or Not?

There are many types of wetlands that are under the jurisdiction of the State of Maine and the US Army Corps of Engineers.  Do you know what a wetland of special significance is?  Do you know what the definition of a stream is?  When do you have to apply for a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers?  If you have a hard time answering these questions, you're not alone.  The natural resources staff at Sebago Technics is here to help.  If you are planning to purchase, sell, or develop a piece of property, you don't want to be surprised when someone asks if you have significant vernal pools.  There is a narrow time frame when vernal pool surveys can be performed.  Don't miss the deadline or you might have to wait until 2016 to get your project permitted!

Vernal Pool Identification Period is April & May, Maybe...

Once the snow melts, one important part of your due diligence for marketing or developing your property needs to be the identification of vernal pools.  Since adoption of the vernal pool regulations in 2007, Sebago Technics (STI) has assisted developers and landowners with vernal pool assessments and regulatory permitting.  Vernal pools are regulated under the Natural Resources Protection Act by the Maine DEP and under the Maine General Permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).  It is important to remember that vernal pools can only be surveyed in the Spring.    

 

So what exactly are Vernal Pools, you might ask? Vernal pools are temporary bodies of water that are the primary breeding habitat for several species of amphibians.  The DEP only regulates Significant Vernal Pools.  A significant vernal pool is determined by the number and type of pool-breeding amphibian egg masses in a pool, the presence of fairy shrimp, or use by rare, threatened, or endangered species.  The minimum thresholds are:

  • Wood Frogs:  presence of 40 or more egg masses
  • Spotted Salamanders:  presence of 20 or more egg masses
  • Blue Spotted Salamanders:  presence of 10 or more egg masses
  • Fairy Shrimp: presence in any life stage
     

The USACE has discretionary authority to regulate a vernal pool based solely on the presence of one or more egg masses. (NOTE: NO MINIMUM THRESHOLDS ARE REQUIRED).

Vernal Pool Regulatory Jurisdiction
The DEP and USACE have different habitat management standards for vernal pools.  The DEP strongly recommends a minimum of 75% of the land area within 250 feet of a significant vernal pool remain forested. 

 

The USACE recommends an undisturbed buffer of 100 feet from any vernal pool as well as a minimum of 75% of the land area between 100 and 750 feet (including off-site properties) remain forested.  If these standards cannot be met, mitigation or payment of an in-lieu fee may be required.

 

As you can see, the USACE may be more restrictive than the DEP on the overall development of a large project due to its jurisdiction of 750 feet from any vernal pool, natural or man-made.

 

Egg mass counts should be performed just past the peak breeding period.  DEP recommends a minimum of 2 site visits in order to ensure that the vernal pool has been reviewed for both wood frogs and salamanders.  The peak breeding season typically begins sometime in April in southern Maine.

 

Since vernal pools can only be surveyed in this short time period, land owners or developers contemplating selling or developing land should be mindful of this. If identified outside of this narrow window, we can only perform preliminary vernal pool assessments, which could delay project planning and development until 2016. 
Subsurface Wastewater Happenings
The Maine Subsurface Wastewater Rules are under review by the Maine legislature.  These are minor revisions that include the provision for in-law apartment minor exemptions, retaining walls built into the fill extensions, and disposal field setbacks from columns.  These should be in effect sometime this year.

 

Did you know that the Subsurface Wastewater Unit and the Drinking Water Program will soon be moved from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)?  This will most likely take place sometime in the next few months.  It is currently unknown what the ramifications of this will be, so stay tuned for more information!
In This Issue
View our profile on LinkedIn
Environmental Services We Offer

Natural Resources Services:

  • Wetland Delineation & Mapping
  • Vernal Pool Surveys
  • Wetland Functional Assessments
  • Wetland Mitigation Planning
  • Wetland Alteration Permitting (DEP/USACE)
  • Global Positioning System (GPS) Services
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) Services
  • HHE-200 Septic System Applications
  • Site Evaluations
  • Septic System Inspections
  • High Intensity Soil Surveys
  • NEPA Studies
  • Site Assessments (ESAs, VRAPs)
Environmental Assessments:
  • NEPA Studies
  • Phase I/II Site Assessments (ESAs, VRAPs)
  • Indoor Air Quality Assessments
  • Underground Storage Tank Removal Assessments
  • Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) Hazardous Waste Close-Outs
  • Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP)
  • Maine Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) Stormwater Sampling
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Permitting

For more info...
Please contact:

Gary Fullerton, CSS, LSE
Director, Natural Resources

Grant Austin
Environmental Scientist

Owens McCullough, PE, LEED-AP
Vice President, Engineering
About Gary Fullerton
Mr. Fullerton joined Sebago Technics in 2000 as a Soil Scientist.  Gary has 15 years of experience in Maine and New Hampshire designing septic systems, delineating wetlands, performing vernal pool surveys and creating high intensity soil maps.  He is a licensed site evaluator, certified soil scientist, and a certified wetland scientist (NH).  He is also on the board of directors of the Maine Association of Soil Scientists and the Maine Association of Site Evaluators.

Education: 
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
Bachelor of Science, Soil and Water Resources, 1998

Registrations:
  • Licensed Site Evaluator: Maine #355
  • Certified Soil Scientist: Maine #462
  • Certified Subsurface Wastewater Disposal System Inspector: Maine #291
  • Certified Wetland Scientist: New Hampshire #246
  • Certified Designer of Subsurface Disposal Systems: New Hampshire #1796
View our profile on LinkedIn  Connect with Gary!
Other Services We Offer
  • Land Surveying
  • Site and Civil Engineering
  • Transportation/Traffic Engineering
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Permitting (Local/State/Federal)
  • Construction Services
  • GIS and Mapping