Fact Sheet
Cranberry Cultivation Projects

November 2000     Phone: (207)-287-3901

Typically, cranberry beds are located on gently sloping land with relatively impervious subsoil near a reliable water supply. Because of these siting criteria, cranberry farms are often constructed in or adjacent to natural resources such as freshwater wetlands and streams. These resources are protected under the Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA). If you are thinking of constructing a cranberry farm, the following information may be helpful to you. If you have additional questions, please call the nearest DEP office. (Contacts listed on page 3.)

Do I need a DEP permit to build cranberry beds and associated structures?

Wetland alterations associated with cranberry bed and reservoir construction may qualify for the NRPA General Permit for Cranberry Cultivation. Copies of the NRPA General Permit Standards are available at all DEP offices, and eligibility requirements are listed in Section 480-U. DEP staff and a private wetland scientist can help you confirm whether your project qualifies. If your project involves wetland alterations and can not qualify for the General Permit then you will need an individual permit.

If the cranberry project is not in a wetland, you may still need an NRPA permit if the project involves one of the following:

a) Soil disturbance within 100 feet of a wetland consisting of a peatland or containing at least 20,000 square feet of open water, or emergent marsh vegetation;

b) Soil disturbance within 100 feet of any other protected natural resource such as a coastal wetland, great pond, or river, stream, or brook; or

c) Construction of a permanent structure, such as a dam or an intake structure in a river, stream or brook.

With the exception of dam construction, the activities listed above may qualify for the NRPA Permit-by-Rule Program. Dams constructed strictly for irrigation (not tailwater recovery) may qualify for the NRPA General Permit for Agricultural Irrigation Ponds. Otherwise an individual permit will be required.

If the project will be constructed in an upland site and none of the above activities apply then an NRPA permit is not required.

How do I tell if I have a wetland or a stream on my property?

There are a variety of resources available that may help you answer this question, such as Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soils maps, local Shoreland Zoning Maps, US Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory Maps, and USGS topographic survey maps. We recommend that you collect these maps early in the planning process for your project. However, as with any map, each of these have a certain level of inaccuracy. Wetlands and streams are defined legally in the Natural Resources Protection Act and all may not be shown on the published maps. The best way to answer this question is to have the property checked by the DEP, NRCS, or a private wetland consultant. The Department of Agriculture may be able to set up a team of state and federal agencies to assess the site for cranberry development. If possible, this also should be done during the planning process for your project.

What is a General Permit?

The General Permit is a simplified permit review process used by the DEP. It generally requires less information than an individual permit application because it is tailored to a specific project type. If the project site does not contain high value wetlands then the project is likely to qualify for the cranberry general permit. If the Department finds that the application is complete and the general permit standards will be met, then a letter acknowledging compliance with the general permit will be issued.

What information do I need to submit with the application form?

You will need the following information for a Cranberry General Permit application:

  • the completed application form (available at all DEP offices);
  • a written certification by a professional that wetlands of special significance will not be altered by the proposed project;
  • top view and cross section plans of the project;
  • a soil erosion control plan, a water recovery system plan;
  • design specifications for water intake structures and outfall structures;
  • a plan to maintain minimum flows in rivers, streams, and brooks; and
  • a pesticide and fertilizer plan.

You will need a wetland scientist and should have a professional engineer help prepare some of this information. The completed application can be sent to the nearest DEP office for processing.

What is the application fee?

If the cranberry project qualifies for the General Permit then the fee is $209.00. If the project requires an individual permit, the fee ranges from $209 to 2 cents per square foot of wetland impact. The fee must be attached to the application form when it is submitted.

How long does it take to obtain a permit?

By law the DEP cannot take more than 45 days after accepting an application to process a General Permit for Cranberry Cultivation. An individual permit, on the other hand, can take up to 4 months to review.

What requirements do I need to meet if I need an individual permit?

The DEP recommends that anyone planning to complete the individual permit application contact the nearest DEP office and set up a pre-application meeting. A staff person can assist you with the requirements of this permit process. One of the many advantages to designing a project to fit within the guidelines for a General Permit is that the DEP does not require compensation for wetland losses. Individual permits do usually require compensation for lost wetland area, functions, and values.

Will I also need a permit from the local and federal governments?

Yes, you may need both. Please contact your local Code Enforcement Officer about local requirements and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for more information about federal requirements. The DEP has a new form that can be used for both a DEP General Permit and an Army Corps of Engineers permit.

For additional information, contact the DEP office closest to you, asking specifically for a staff person in the NRPA program:

DEP, Southern Maine:
312 Canco Road, Portland ME 04103( 207-822-6300 or 1-888-769-1036
DEP, Central Maine:
17 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333
( 207-287-3901 or 1-800-452-1942
DEP, Eastern Maine:
106 Hogan Road, Bangor ME 04401
( 207-941-4570 or 1-888-769-1137
DEP, Northern Maine:
1235 Central Drive, Presque Isle ME 04769
( 207-764-0477 or 1-888-769-1053

Useful Information available from the DEP:

Wetland Protection Rules-Chapter 310

Other Issue Profiles/Fact Sheets -

  • Permit-by-Rule
  • Planning Projects to Meet Permit-by-Rule Standards
  • Agricultural Irrigation Ponds
  • Wetlands Protection : A Federal, State and Local Partnership
  • Wetlands Compensation: Techniques for Restoring Lost Functions & Values

NRPA WEB Page:  http://www3.maine.gov/dep/land/nrpa/index.html