The Permit Program is responsible for reviewing and providing Departmental comments on approximately 300 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard and Office of Water Resources individual permits for work in water each year. The Corps of Engineers permit reviews (half or more of the volume during a typical year) are mandated by the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, which requires the Corps to consult with the appropriate state fish and wildlife agency before granting a permit.
In conducting permit reviews, the Program Manager works closely with staff of the five Corps Districts having jurisdiction in Illinois as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The Program Manager also coordinates with the IDNR divisions of Fisheries, Forestry, Natural Heritage and Wildlife Resources in evaluating the potential fish and wildlife impacts of proposed activities. He meets as necessary with the applicants and permitting agencies and provides Departmental recommendations for avoiding or mitigating fish and wildlife losses.
The program also reviews approximately 150 Corps "Nationwide" permits each year. These involve accelerated processing (usually a 5-day turnaround) with correspondence handled electronically. In addition, the program reviews approximately 400-500 Office of Water Resources "Waters of the State" permits for compliance with the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act. These types of Corps and OWR projects are typically processed directly by the Program Manager without soliciting comments from other IDNR staff.
The Program Manager also serves as the Departments' representative on various interagency planning efforts involving work in water (e.g. the Illinois River Quality Action Team of the Corps of Engineers, the Chain O' Lakes dredging proposal of the Fox Waterway agency, etc.). This typically involves negotiation on behalf of the Department aimed at impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation to reduce and/or compensate for project-related environmental impacts.
Other major duties of the permit program include:
- reviews of pertinent state and federal legislation (e.g. the Regulatory Reforms of the Corps of Engineers)
representation of IDNR/OREP on P.L. 566 (Small Watershed) and RC&D (Resource Conservation and Development) projects of the U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation Service
- serving as Chairman of the Illinois River On-Site Inspection Team, a joint working group including representatives of seven state and federal agencies/offices which advises the Corps of Engineers (Rock Island District) on its navigational dredging program for the Illinois River.
- providing in-house expertise concerning freshwater mussel distribution and ecology. This includes published surveys of the mussels of the Sangamon River and Green River basins, and an ongoing survey of the Fox River basin.