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 purpose of the 310 Law is to ensure that projects on streams are carried out in ways that are not damaging to the stream or to adjoining landowners.
Conservation districts throughout Montana administer the 310 Law. Flathead Conservation District administers the 310 Law within Flathead County, outside of the 1946 Kalispell City limits.
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 and 310 meetings occur once each month. Please see our calendar for upcoming dates.
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
Click here for a printer-friendly, 1-page fact sheet about the 310 permit process.
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 on the second Monday of each month. Meetings are open to the public. For meeting schedules, view our calendar.
Annual permits are also available for routine maintenance work, such as opening/clearing ditches, and valid for up to ten years.
There is no fee for a 310 Permit.
To apply, applications can be picked up at the district office or downloaded (below). Instructions are found at the end of the application form. Please read them carefully as other permits may be required for any work done in or near streams.
Click here for a printer-friendly factsheet about 310 permit applications.
Click here to view the district calendar and application deadlines.
For questions, contact Flathead Conservation District by calling (406) 752-4220, writing firstname.lastname@example.org, or stopping in the office at 133 Interstate Lane, Kalispell.
During an emergency, when actions are taken to safeguard life or property (including growing crops) you are required to:
- Call the district office at 752-4220 before emergency work is undertaken
- Submit an Emergency form within 15 days of taking action.
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