State Mandated Stream Permitting

The 310 Law, or the Natural Streambed and Land Preservation Act of 1975

Any work which may impact the bed or banks of a perennially flowing stream in Lewis and Clark County will require a permit from the Conservation District.  Included in our jurisdiction is the Missouri River, as well as the “run of the river” reservoirs that are part of the Missouri River.

At LCCD we consider the 310 permitting process to be more than just issuing permits.  It’s more “value-added”, with the opportunity to share our experience and the experience of the FWP Biologists collaboratively involved in the review process to result in better projects with less stream impact.

If you have any further questions or if you are ready to get your project underway please contact the Lewis and Clark Conservation District.  If you do not obtain a permit you may be subject to fines and will likely be required to complete mitigative work to repair–sometimes at significant cost–the work done without a permit or beyond the scope of your permit.


When the Lewis & Clark Conservation District reviews 310 permit applications, we are required to consider the following factors:

Erosion and Sedimentation

Supervisors have to look at the potential effects of the project on erosion and sedimentation, considering the methods available to complete the project and the nature and economics of various alternatives.

Stream Channel Alteration

Supervisors must review the effects of stream channel alterations to minimize adverse impacts and maintain the integrity and function of the natural channel.

Streamflow, Turbidity and Water Quality

Projects must keep impacts to water quality to a minimum, including potential effects of project materials used or removal of ground cover.

Effects on Fish and Aquatic Habitat

Projects must minimize adverse effects to fish and aquatic habitat.  This includes criteria such as fish passage and bank/streambed alterations that impair resource values.

Avoid Harmful Flooding or Erosion

Projects must avoid creating harmful flooding or erosion upstream or downstream.

Minimize Vegetation Disturbance, Protect Existing Vegetation, Control Weeds

Projects should seek to preserve, establish, or enhance native vegetation on the banks and floodplain.

The Conservation District will consider whether there are modifications or alternative solutions that are reasonably practical that would reduce disturbance to the stream and its environment and better accomplish the goals of the project.

Considerations When Planning Your Project

Streams and rivers are complex systems and constantly undergo change.  Their function is primarily to move water and sediment from the upstream watershed to points downstream.  This may seem like a simple function, but the processes that the systems experience can be complex.  There is a perpetual change to systems called dynamic equilibrium.

To determine the cause and effect of channel changes, it’s important to understand the processes that govern stream systems.  Projects need to be designed to work with the natural stream processes to maintain or improve balance in the system.  Adequate project designs increase the potential for long-term benefits to the stream and to landowners. It is important to understand the limitations and the possible outcomes of different types of projects that a landowner may want to do on their property.

Landowners should keep in mind that sometimes the best project is actually to do nothing at all.

For more information on Stream Form and Function, including discussions on stream morphology, stream processes and more, please refer to the Montana Stream Permitting:  A Guide for Conservation District Supervisors and Others. This guide discusses the various permits and permitting agencies in Montana, as well as:

  • Watersheds
  • Geology and Climate
  • Stream Channel Form
  • Bank and Channel Stability
  • Flow Characteristics
  • Field Indicators of Bankfull Flow
  • Channel Downcutting & Re-establishment of Equilibrium
  • Channel Migration Zones
  • Meander Movement and Bank Erosion
  • Role of Large Woody Debris
  • Role of Beaver Dams
  • And a Case Study of Big Spring Creek near Lewistown, Montana

Dos and Don’ts of Stream Permit Applications 


  • DO get a permit from the Conservation District and other permitting agencies prior to starting your project
  • DO consider how your proposed activity will affect those up and downstream from your project
  • DO consider other alternatives to your proposed project 
  • DO work with permitting agencies at on-site inspections
  • DO get your permit application in early-the process takes around 30-45 days once your application is submitted, and may take longer depending on the need for site inspections


  • Don’t proceed without a permit
  • Don’t go beyond the bounds of your permit

Don't Do this
                                             Don’t Do This

A word of caution:  Beaver dam removal IS considered a 310 project by Lewis & Clark Conservation District and DOES require a permit.  In addition, for ANY project, you must have permission from the landowner(s) even if you have an easement.


Instructions – Word Format(It is highly recommended that all applicants read this file!)

Instructions – PDF Format

Application – Word Format

Application – PDF Fillable Format

Complaint Form

Emergency Notice

Fillable form-Emergency Notice–this one can be downloaded and filled in electronically.

Rules for Permitting

310 Rules 2019

The Board of Supervisors met in November 2019 to revise their rules for permitting to update them as required by a law change at the 2019 State Legislative Session.

Photo By- Ashley Rivero
Photo By- Ashley Rivero

Complaints about Projects that are on-going

310 Complaint form

Quite often people in the community notice work being done on a stream and they aren’t sure if there is a permit issued or not.  Please call the District Office at 449-5000 ext. 5 to find out. 

If you wish to file a complaint, you may have us mail or email the form or you may download the form and return it to us. 

Please remember that under State Law, all of the Conservation District’s files are open to the public except for any in an ongoing legal dispute.  Please be aware of this when submitting complaints.

The location of potential unpermitted activity and the name of the person doing the work is particularly helpful, as is any contact information.  If all you see is a contractor name on the side of a truck or excavator, even that is very helpful. 

Submitting photos along with complaints is always helpful.

Keep in mind that other permitting agencies may need to be notified of complaints as well.

Emergency Actions

Emergency Form- PDF

Emergency Form-Word Format

Emergencies often occur during spring run-off, or other flooding events, as well as during extended drought.  Under the 310 law, a landowner may conduct the work that needs to be done to safeguard life, property or crops.  Within 15 days of conducting that work, the landowner needs to fill out and submit to the District, an Emergency Notice.  The District Office can mail or email the form, or you may download it and return it to the District.  Submitting photos with emergency notices is always helpful.

Please keep in mind that if the District finds that work done was NOT an emergency it may be considered a violation under state law.  Even if work done was a true emergency, additional work may be required to further remedy the problem and it may be necessary for the landowner to obtain a 310 Permit to conduct that work.

Also keep in mind that other permitting agencies may need to be notified about Emergency Actions taken.

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