Montana Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act: 310-Law
The Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act is intended to protect and preserve streams and rivers and the lands adjacent to them. The law requires any individual or business proposing work in or near a perennial stream to apply for a 310 permit through their local conservation district.
If you are planning a project in or around a stream, this law pertains to you.
Notices of proposed projects must be submitted on the 310 Joint Application for proposed work on streams to the conservation district in which the activity will take place. The conservation district may reject applications that are not complete. Please review the LCCD 310 application process summary (located before the application) and the joint permit application instructions carefully.
Applications will be reviewed to determine if the project will be accomplished by reasonable means using the following criteria:
1) The effects of soil erosion and sedimentation, considering the methods available to complete the project and the nature and economics of the various alternatives;
2) the effects of stream channel alteration;
3) the effects on streamflow, turbidity, and water quality caused by materials used or by removal of ground cover;
4) the effects on fish and aquatic habitat;
5) whether there are modifications or alternative solutions that are reasonably practical that would reduce the disturbance to the stream and its environment and better accomplish the purpose of the proposed project;
6) whether the proposed project will create harmful flooding or erosion problems upstream or downstream.
The district will make their decision to approve, modify, or deny the project within 60 days of acceptance of your application. However, this time period can be extended if the district determines it necessary to collect further information. After you receive the supervisors’ decision, you have 15 days to return the permit, signed to indicate your intent to proceed. Unless otherwise stated on the supervisors’ decision form, you must wait 15 days before proceeding with your project.
Individual districts may require additional information. For more information, contact the conservation district in which the project will be conducted.
The Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act, also known as the 310 Law, requires any individual or business proposing work in or near a perennial stream on private property to apply for a 310 permit through their local conservation district. Read more about the 310 permitting on The Montana Department of Natural Resource & Conservation Website
Permits are free of charge.
Conservation districts throughout Montana administer the 310 Law.
OTHER STREAM PERMITS ARE OFTEN NEEDED IN ADDITION TO THE 310 PERMIT. READ MORE ABOUT STREAM PERMITTING REQUIRED BY OTHER AGENCIES.
For additional resources, check out the Montana Stream Permitting Guide: Montana Stream Permitting: A Guide for Conservation District Supervisors and Others is a publication developed to assist conservation districts and agencies in reviewing stream projects.
1) Application Process
All information requested on the 310 application along with a plan and/or drawing of the proposed project and a site map must be provided. Incomplete applications may be rejected. Applications are reviewed and accepted at the monthly district meetings. After a 310 application is received, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is notified of the proposed project and may request an on-site inspection. We strongly encourage applicants, or their representative, to attend the district’s 310 meeting to participate in scheduling an on-site visit and discussion of the application.
Application deadlines for 310s are on the first Wednesday of each month to be addressed at the LCCD monthly meeting occurring on the 2nd Thursday of each month. If applications are received after the first Wednesday of the month they will not be reviewed until the following month.
2) Site Inspection Process
A team, consisting of at least one district supervisor, a Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks representative, and the applicant or applicant’s representative will meet to discuss the project on site. The applicant or their representative is entitled to be a team member for the purposes of making recommendations to the district. Team members may waive participation in the on-site inspection.
After an inspection is conducted, team members make recommendations to the district at a regular meeting. The applicant can waive participation, submit a team member report jointly with other team members (if in agreement with their recommendations), or submit a separate report.
If no inspection is required, the district may proceed with the application and the applicant will be notified of the supervisors’ decision.
3) Decision Process
The district will decide whether to approve, modify, or deny the project within 60 days of acceptance of the application. However, this time period can be extended if the district determines it necessary to collect further information. After receiving the supervisors’ decision, the applicant has 15 days to return the permit, signed to indicate agreement with the district’s decision. Unless otherwise stated on the supervisors’ decision form, the applicant must wait 15 days before proceeding with the project.
Considerations that must be addressed by the district in making their decision:
- The effects on soil erosion and sedimentation, considering the methods available to complete the project and the nature and economics of the various alternatives
- The effects of stream channel alteration
- The effects on streamflow, turbidity, and water quality caused by materials used or by removal of ground cover
- The effects on fish and aquatic habitat
- Whether there are modifications or alternative solutions that are reasonably practical that would reduce the disturbance to the stream and its environment and better accomplish the purpose of the project
- Whether the proposed project will create harmful flooding or erosion problems upstream or downstream
The Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act, also known as the 310 Law, requires any individual or business proposing work in or near a perennial stream on private property to apply for a 310 permit through their local conservation district. Read more about the history of Conservation Districts and the 310 Law.
Permits are free of charge.
The permitting process takes between 30 and 90 days. Once approved, a 310 permit is valid for one year. Permits decisions are made by the Flathead Conservation District Board of Supervisors during the monthly meetings, which occur once a month on the 2nd Thursday. Meetings are open to the public.
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, the person may be required to restore the damaged stream to a condition as close to its prior condition as possible, as recommended by the District supervisors.
Example projects that require a 310 Permit:
- Trails/walkways & stairs
- Culverts & bridges
- Utility installation & maintenance
- Dams & ponds
- Stream bank protection/stabilization projects
- Boat ramps & docks
- Fences & decks
Example projects that are prohibited:
- The placement of concrete in a stream as rock riprap
- The placement of road fill material in a stream
- The placement of debris or other material in a stream where it may erode or otherwise enter the stream
- Projects that permanently prevent fish migration
- Removal of streambank vegetation within the immediate banks of the stream, unless necessary for completion of the permitted project
- Excavation of streambed gravels
- Construction of an in-stream pond
General Project Considerations
1. The applicant must provide sufficient information for the district to make a reasonable determination to approve, modify, or deny a project. All information requested on the application form must be provided.
2. Projects must be designed and constructed using methods that minimize: a) adverse impacts to the stream, both upstream and downstream; and (b) future disturbance to the stream.
3. All disturbed areas must be managed during construction and reclaimed after construction to minimize erosion.
4. Temporary structures used during construction must be designed to handle high flows reasonably anticipated during the construction period. Temporary structures must be completely removed from the stream channel at the conclusion of construction and the area must be restored to a natural or stable condition.
5. Channel alterations must be designed to retain original stream length or otherwise provide hydrologic stability.
6. Streambank vegetation must be protected except where removal of such vegetation is necessary for the completion of the project. When removal of vegetation is necessary, it must be kept to a minimum.
7. Riprap, rock, or other material used in a project must be of adequate size, shape, and density and must be properly placed to protect the streambank from erosion.
8. The district may:
a. Limit the time and duration of construction to minimize impacts to the stream or associated aquatic life;
b. Require the applicant to submit engineering designs when in the district’s judgment the project’s complexity requires a greater assurance of project stability to minimize impacts to the stream;
c. Require the applicant to provide project completion documentation, which may include photographs.
9. Unless specifically authorized by the district, the following activities are prohibited:
a. The placement of road fill material in a stream;
b. The placement of debris or other materials in a stream where it can erode or float into the stream;
c. Projects that permanently prevent fish migration;
d. Operation of construction equipment in a stream; and
e. Excavation of streambed gravels.