Agriculture and Forestry

Agricultural Functions of Department of Environmental Management

Freshwater Wetlands

SECTION 2-1-20.1

§ 2-1-20.1. Rules and regulations.

(a) The director is authorized to adopt, modify, or repeal rules and regulations that are in accord with the purposes of §§ 2-1-18 – 2-1-27 and are subject to the administrative procedures act, chapter 35 of title 42, except for those freshwater wetlands located in the vicinity of the coast as set out in chapter 23 of title 46 which shall be regulated by the coastal resources management council consistent with the provisions of chapter 23 of title 46 and §§ 2-1-18 – 2-1-20.1 and 2-1-27.

(b) The director is authorized to establish jurisdictional areas through regulation. The rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to § 2-1-20.1 shall apply within the jurisdictional areas defined in § 2-1-20 and subject to the provisions of § 2-1-22(k) and to activities as provided for in § 2-1-21.

(c) Within eighteen (18) months from enactment of this section, the department and the coastal resources management council shall promulgate standards for freshwater wetland buffers and setbacks into state rules and regulations pursuant to their respective authorities. The department and the coastal resources management council shall collaborate to develop the state standards for freshwater buffers and setbacks that will be incorporated into the programs of both agencies. State regulations designating buffers shall include a procedure that allows a municipality to petition the agency director with jurisdiction to increase the size of the buffer within the designated jurisdictional area protecting one or more freshwater wetland resources.

(d) In developing standards specified in § 2-1-20.1(c), the department and the coastal resources management council shall take into consideration agricultural and plant-based green infrastructure practices and activities, while ensuring protection of the state's natural resources. In setting criteria, the department shall take into account, at a minimum, existing land use, watershed and wetland resource characteristics, and the type of activity including acceptable best management practices. The director shall establish by appointment an advisory work group to facilitate input on the development of criteria for freshwater wetland setbacks and buffers applicable to agricultural activities and plant-based green infrastructure. The advisory group shall include, at minimum, the following: one representative from the Rhode Island Farm Bureau, one representative of the Rhode Island nursery and landscape association, one representative of the department of environmental management agency agricultural advisory committee, an operator of a small-scale agricultural enterprise, and one professional with expertise in soil and water conservation practices.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1974, ch. 197, § 1; P.L. 1999, ch. 501, § 2; P.L. 2015, ch. 218, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 306, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 321, § 1.)