Government agencies, from the federal level down to your local county and town/city, are the ones who regulate and administer the permits that may be required for your project. These permits are discussed in more detail in the ‘Permitting Requirements’ section of Chapter 3 and they have been put in place to protect the stream corridor, the plants and animals that depend upon the stream and landowners that live along the stream such as yourself. If you are unsure if your project will require permits, you should contact the regulating agency to find out more information. Depending on the project and the permit, the agency may even help you through the permit application process.
In addition to regulating and administering permits, government agencies also support the watershed coalitions and private landowners by funding recovery projects, monitoring our streams, creating educational resources and offering grant programs. In fact, this Handbook is funded by government funds in order to provide landowners with information and resources for stewardship and recovery projects.
Federal Government Resources
Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge of materials into waters of the U.S. and their tributaries. This permit is required when doing work that affects wetlands, including streambanks below the annual high water level. When the EPA refers to the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM or OHW), this is the same as the annual high water level.
US Army Corps of Engineers
While the EPA develops Section 404 policy, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (COE or the Corps) administers the program. This includes reviewing and approving or denying permit applications. The Corps splits the country up into geographical regions or districts. Northern Colorado is within the Omaha District and there is a regulatory office in Denver. The Denver Regulatory Office can be reached at (303) 979-4120.
U.S Fish & Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulates and monitors a wide range of animals and animal habitats, including fish and aquatic habitat, across the country. The FWS administers and enforces the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). This includes Threatened and Endangered Species permitting.
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is a federal agency that oversees the nation’s historic resources. In order to do this, they administer and enforce Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). If you project requires a CWA 404 permit, it has the potential to also require a Section 106 permit through the ACHP.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is not only responsible for responding to emergencies, but also preparing for them. FEMA manages the floodplain and floodway databases and the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). These
determine the location and extents of all flood zones, including floodways and floodplains. As a result, floodplain permitting through your local floodplain administrator will be involved with your project if you are impacting floodways or floodplains. FEMA also manages the National Flood Insurance Program.
FEMA’s website provides a number of helpful resources for flood preparedness, recovery assistance and flood fact sheets, as well as information on current disasters.
National Resources Conservation Service
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is a service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They provide financial and technical assistance for a variety of topics relating to the conservation of plants, animals, soils, agriculture and ecosystems. Their website also provides a number of educational resources that range from basic information to technical manuals on topics such as streambank stabilization, plant information, agricultural practices and water resources. You can access a number of these resources here.
United States Forest Service
The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. As they administer national forests and national grasslands, many landowners access their properties through USFS land. The USFS also has many great online and in person resources for learning about forest management, stream restoration and ecosystems.
Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior. They administer over 200 million acres of public lands across the country. Many of these acres are used for private livestock grazing through permits and leases. The BLM also leases land for oil and gas production. Certain private landowners may also deal with the BLM for access to their properties. The BLM website maintains an online library with many good resources on land management, livestock grazing management and open lands management.
State (Colorado) Government Resources
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is a great resource for learning more about the wildlife and habitats that are found in Colorado. In addition to regulating hunting and fishing within the State, they also have resources for learning about animal species, fish species and insect species. Their staff is a good resource to consult with if you have questions about how your project may impact local wildlife populations.
Colorado Water Conservation Board
The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) is a division of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR). They oversee the local watershed coalitions as part of their overall mission to ‘represent each major water basin, Denver and other state agencies in [a] joint effort to use water wisely and protect our water for future generations’ (cwcb.state.co.us). The CWCB also serves as Colorado’s coordinating agency for FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.
In addition to these responsibilities, the CWCB provides resources for flood preparedness and response. This includes the Flood Threat Bulletin which alerts people around the state of the daily flood potential.
Colorado Division of Water Resources
The Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR) oversees issues dealing with water rights, wells and represents Colorado in interstate water compact proceedings. The DWR also approves construction and repair of dam structures in Colorado.
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) administers Colorado’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These funds reimburse ‘local governments, communities, small business owners, farmers and homeowners for expenses associated with recovery projects and services.’ (colorado.gov/pacific/dola/disaster-recovery)
Colorado Association of Conservation Districts
The Conservation Districts work to maintain and improve water, soil and wildlife resources by providing technical and educational resources to support conservation practices on a local basis. Conservation Districts in Northern Colorado include the Fort Collins, Big Thompson, Longmont and Boulder Valley Districts. You can find your District by web searching or visiting the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts website.
Boulder, Larimer and Weld Counties all have valuable resources for private landowners. These resources can help you with permitting information and guidance, invasive weed management and flood resiliency and recovery. Each county has their own regulations for floodplain development permits, which apply to projects that will have impacts on the floodplain or floodway. If you live within city or town limits, the city or town will often have their own set of floodplain requirements (discussed in the ‘City/Town Resources’ section). In most cases, County staff will discuss your project with you to help you in determining what permits will be required. All three counties also have weed management programs that will help you to identify and control weeds. Lastly, each of these counties has an Office of Emergency Management to assist with flood preparedness and help during an emergency event such as a flood. Many other counties in Colorado provide these same services. Please contact your county government with these types of questions/requests.
If you live within a city or town, such as Boulder, Longmont, Loveland or Fort Collins, there may be specific regulations or permits that you need to adhere to for certain projects. Often, the permitting process for these is very similar or identical to federal or county permits. For example, most cities and some towns have their own floodplain administrator who is responsible for floodplain permitting. If you live within a city or town, you can contact the appropriate department for advice and guidance on the permits required for your project.
Along with permits and regulations that are more specific to your area, a city or town will often also provide many services similar those provided by counties. These often include weed management and emergency management, as well as resources for property development, zoning and neighborhood associations.