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Indiana Natural Resources Commission

NRC > Rules > Existing Rules > Rules Review Rules Review

Permanent Rules

The Natural Resources Commission adopts rules that govern the administrative and regulatory functions of the Department of Natural Resources. These rules are important to citizens and businesses in Indiana because they cover an array of activities, including construction in or near rivers and streams, historic preservation, fish and wildlife management, and timber sales from private and public lands.

Following is the current status of the agency's permanent rules:

General Definitions (312 IAC 1)
This article contains a number of definitions that have general application throughout the commission's rules. Examples include terms such as DNR "director" and "department."

Procedures and Delegations (312 IAC 2)
This article contains procedures for the Natural Resources Commission and the various boards of the Department of Natural Resources, as well as delegations of authority by the commission. Also included are procedures for informal factfinding hearings held by divisions of the DNR before making decisions concerning permits and other issues.

Appeals of DNR Decisions (312 IAC 3)
This article provides procedural rules for court-type proceedings held before the commission and its administrative law judges. These rules provide a "cookbook" for how to file and pursue an appeal (technically called "administrative review") of a determination by the DNR or another determination over which the commission has jurisdiction. The homepage version of these rules includes unofficial annotations to help understand how these rules were interpreted in particular cases.

Law Enforcement Procedures and Personnel (312 IAC 4)
These rules govern standards of conduct and discipline, and appellate procedures, for conservation officers.

Watercraft Standards (312 IAC 5)
Effective January 1, 2002, these rules supplement statutory standards for the operation and equipping of boats on public waters. A new emphasis is placed on enforcement directed to the disposal of wastewater from boats. New procedural standards are also included to help implement 2000 legislation to authorize the establishment of ecological zones and the licensing of fishing tournaments and other organized activities on public waters.

Navigable Waterways (312 IAC 6)
One of the most asked-about areas of NRC responsibility is navigable waters. The Division of Hearings has recently developed a research aid to better understanding of the history and application of this important legal area. The aid annotates Commission rules for navigable waters but also goes beyond those rules to outline important precedents from Indiana and federal courts. Navigable Waters Ways Roster.

Great Lakes Basin (312 IAC 6.2)
This article would address diversions from the Indiana portion of the Great Lakes Basin. Rules adopted in 2005 provided the genesis for state procedures.

Water Withdrawal Contracts from State Reservoirs (312 IAC 6.3)
This article governs the procedures for, and the substance of, consideration of any contract proposal made to the state and submitted to the Division of Water after February 28, 2009, for the withdrawal or release of water from the water supply storage of a reservoir. 

Off-Road Vehicles and Snowmobiles (312 IAC 6.5)
This article addresses the registration of off-road vehicles and snowmobiles. The article is administered primarily through the Division of Accounting.

Trails and Scenic Rivers (312 IAC 7)
This very brief article sets general standards for the maintenance of snowmobile trails. Also identified are the state's three scenic waterways. The DNR division of outdoor recreation administers the article.

Public Use of DNR Properties (312 IAC 8)
The article guides public use of state parks, forests, nature preserves, historic sites, state reservoirs, and similar properties. . Several amendments became effective January 1, 2000, including those for activities on shooting ranges. The article does not include hunting or fishing regulations; these are in 312 IAC 9. Neither does the article apply to DNR administration of floodways, navigable waterways, or public freshwater lakes.

Fish and Wildlife (312 IAC 9)
This extensive article includes a wide variety of provisions designed to help manage fish and wildlife in Indiana. Hunting and fishing seasons and bag limits are set. Endangered and threatened wild animals are given legal protection. Permitting processes are set for scientific investigations, the possession of certain wild animals, falconry, and similar activities. Recent amendments were directed to reptiles and amphibians native to Indiana and to potentially dangerous reptiles.

Flood Plain Management (312 IAC 10)
Effective January 1, 2002, these rules govern construction activities within floodways (regulated by the DNR) and construction activities for the portions of flood plains outside floodways (regulated by local government). A new "general license" is approved that allows for the placement of qualified outfall structures in floodways. Additional licensing coordination is provided with respect to the floodways of navigable waters.

Regulation of Dams (312 IAC 10.5)
This article governs an activity that is controlled by IC 14-27-7.5; and establishes definitions and creates procedures related to hazard classifications of dams. 

Lake Construction Activities (312 IAC 11)
This article addresses construction activities on and along lakes. Rules recodified in 1999 were concerned with shoreline changes and with the placement of such structures as seawalls and piers along public freshwater lakes.  The rules governing surface water rights and the emergency regulation of freshwater lakes were recodified effective February 4, 2000.

Surface Water Emergencies on Lakes (312 IAC 11.5)
The article relocated surface water emergency standards from 312 IAC 11-6 to 312 IAC 11.5.  The enabling statute (IC 14-25-5) provides protection to owners of freshwater lakes against the impacts of nearby “significant water withdrawal facilities” that might substantially lower lake levels and result in significant environmental harm. 

Surface Water Disputes Mediation (312 IAC 11.8)
The article assists with the implementation of IC 14-25-1-8 to provide for mediation of surface water disputes.  It defers to other statutory systems, such as provided in IC 36-9-27.4 for a drainage board to resolve a dispute concerning obstructions in regulated drains, or as provided in IC 36-9-28.7 for a local unit of government to resolve a storm water nuisance.  The remedy is available to disputes concerning surface water quantity but not those for water quality.

Water Well Construction Standards (312 IAC 12)
This article sets minimum standards for water well construction in order for a well to qualify its owner for relief under IC 14-25-4 (sometimes called the "Groundwater Protection Act").

Water Well Drillers (312 IAC 13)
The rules governing the conduct of water well drilling contractors were recodified effective in December 1999. Amendments were made to coordinate with standards approved by the water pollution control board at 327 IAC 8-3.4 for the design and construction of public water supply wells. Also addressed is the proper abandonment of water wells by landowners.

Timber Buyers, Their Agents, and Timber Growers (312 IAC 14)
This article helps to administer the statute that governs the licensing of timber buyers. Also included are provisions relating to complaints by landowners who believe they have not been paid for timber cut from their property. In most cases brought under this article, the DNR is not a party.

Classified Forests (312 IAC 15)
A few provisions help assure private forests lands, classified by request of the owners as forest plantations or as native forests, apply a management plan to help maintain a healthy forest environment.

Oil and Gas (312 IAC 16)
This extensive article provides the primary structure for regulation of the oil and gas production industry in Indiana. Included are technical standards designed to protect water quality and other environmental concerns, as well as to support public safety and minimize the "waste" of petroleum and other mineral resources. Incorporated within the rules are standards governing Class II injection wells, a program for which the division of oil and gas has primacy through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Other Petroleum Regulation (312 IAC 17)
As with article 16, this article is administered by the division of oil and gas. Included are standards for the exploration of oil or gas on state-owned real estate; test hole drilling; and geophysical surveying for petroleum resources through seismic or other methodologies.

Entomology and Plant Pathology (312 IAC 18)
This article includes rules for the DNR division of entomology and plant pathology. Included are provisions regulating nursery dealers and beekeepers. There are also standards designed to control pests or pathogens, such as africanized bees or purple loosestrife.

Ginseng Management (312 IAC 19)
This article governs the collection and sale of ginseng from public and private properties. New standards require that wild ginseng be harvested only after a plant reaches maturity. The article is administered through DNR division of nature preserves, with support from the division of law enforcement.

Historic Preservation Review Board (312 IAC 20)
These rules outline procedures of the Historic Preservation Review Board, as well as appeals from decisions of the board. The rules also reference the status of the State Historic Preservation Officer (who, in Indiana, is also the DNR Director).

Archaeological Review and Recovery (312 IAC 21)
These rules set minimum qualifications among the levels of professionals and amateurs in order to conduct archaeological excavations and analyses. The Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology is authorized to maintain a roster of persons who may conduct the activities, as well as to initiate a complaint with the Natural Resources Commission to remove a person from the roster where the Division believes the person has not performed according to those standards.

Human Remains, Burial Objects, and Artifacts (312 IAC 22)
These rules set standards for the excavation of archaeological sites by both professionals and amateurs, including the development of formal "plans" to conduct those excavations.

Cemeteries and Burial Grounds; Registration and Management (312 IAC 22.5)
These rules set standards for the submission, review, and implementation of a development plan within 100 feet of a cemetery.

State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (312 IAC 23)
This article governs the administration of the state historic rehabilitation tax credit established by IC 6-3.1-16, and is administered by the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

State Museums and Historic Sites (312 IAC 24)
This article helps administer some of the activities of the DNR division of state museums and historic sites. Included are standards for the receipt and disposal of museum artifacts, a process call "accession and deaccession." Ethical standards are set for DNR employees relative to the state museum's collection; these are in addition to the general state employee ethics requirements.

Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation (312 IAC 25)
These rules govern environmental standards for suface coal mining (including surface impacts resulting from underground coal mines) and the reclamation of those sites. Through what is commonly called "primacy," this Indiana program administers Federal SMCRA. Rule recodification has completed the process established by state law, but 312 IAC 25 becomes effective only upon approval by the Federal Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation, and notice of the approval being published in the Indiana Register. 

DNR Grant Programs (312 IAC 26)
This article provides standards for administration of the Hometown Indiana Grant Program. Various elements of the program are managed within the DNR by the division of outdoor recreation, the division of historic preservation and archeology, and the division of forestry. The program also gives recognition to the SCORP and to some other grant programs administered by the division of outdoor recreation.

Flood Control Revolving Fund (312 IAC 27)
This article assists with the implementation of the Flood Control Revolving Fund.

State Land Office (312 IAC 28)
The article assists with implementation of IC 14-18-1.5 which relocated the State Land Office from the Department of Administration to the Department of Natural Resources.   The functions of the Division of State Land Office function are performed with DNR’s, Division of Land Acquisition.  The article assists with reporting and communications but does not impose regulatory requirements.