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(1) If land within the proposed permit area is identified as prime farmland under ARM 17.24.306, the applicant shall submit a plan for the mining and restoration of the land. Each plan must contain the following:

(a) the soil survey requirements listed under ARM 17.24.304(11) , and also including: 

(i) a description of the mapping unit(s) containing each prime farmland soil;

(ii) the depth and thickness of each of the soil horizons that collectively constitute the root zone of the locally adapted crops; and

(iii) the bulk densities of each soil horizon for each prime farmland soil;

(b) the proposed method and type of equipment to be used for removal, storage, and replacement of the soil in accordance with ARM 17.24.811;

(c) the location of areas to be used for the separate stockpiling of the soil and plans for stockpile stabilization;

(d) plans for seeding or cropping the final graded disturbed land and the conservation practices to be used to adequately control erosion and sedimentation and  to restore an adequate soil moisture regime, during the period from completion of regrading until release of the performance bond. Proper adjustments for seasons must be proposed so that final graded land is not exposed to erosion during seasons when vegetation or conservation practices cannot be established due to weather conditions;

(e) plans that demonstrate that the proposed method of reclamation will achieve vegetation to satisfactorily comply with ARM 17.24.815;

(f) available agricultural school studies or other scientific data for areas with comparable soils, climate, and management (including water management) that demonstrate that the proposed method of reclamation will achieve, within a reasonable time, equivalent or higher levels of yield after disturbance as existed before disturbance;

(g) if the use of other soils or materials is proposed, documentation, such as agricultural school studies or other scientific data from comparable areas, demonstrating that the use of these soils or materials, instead of the A, E, B, or C horizons of the prime farmland soils, can achieve soil productive capacities in accordance with 82-4-232 (3) (a) and (b) , MCA. Any proposals to use said substitutes must document compliance with ARM 17.24.703, if applicable;

(h) a description of the reference area(s) of prime farmland that lie outside of the area proposed for disturbance but in the vicinity of the proposed mining operation. If reference areas in the vicinity of the mining operation are not present, the applicant shall describe reference areas more distant from the proposed operation. In all cases, reference areas must be selected and used in accordance with ARM 17.24.815(2) , in determining revegetative success of disturbed and reclaimed prime farmlands;

(i) if reference areas in accordance with (h) are not found at all, a demonstration as to how a target yield will be utilized in determining revegetation success in accordance with ARM 17.24.815(2) ; and

(j) vegetative productivity prior to disturbance in accordance with ARM 17.24.304(12) (b) (ii) .

(2) Before any permit is issued for areas that include prime farmlands, the department shall consult with the Montana state office of the U.S. natural resources conservation service.

(3) A permit for the mining and reclamation of prime farmland may be granted by the department, if it first finds, in writing, upon the basis of a complete application, that:

(a) the permit incorporates as specific conditions the contents of the plan submitted under (1) after consideration of any revisions to that plan suggested by the Montana state office of the U.S. natural resources conservation service pursuant to (2) ;

(b) the applicant has the technological capability to restore the prime farmland, within a reasonable time, to equivalent or higher levels of yield as comparable non-mined prime farmland under equivalent levels of management;

(c) the postmining land use of the affected prime farmland will be cropland, special use pasture, grazing land, or wildlife habitat that is consistent with the restoration of the real or potential productivity of the prime farmland; and

(d) the proposed operations will be conducted in compliance with the applicable requirements of ARM 17.24.811 and 17.24.815 through 17.24.825.

History: 82-4-204, MCA; IMP, 82-4-222, MCA; NEW, 1980 MAR p. 725, Eff. 4/1/80; AMD, 1989 MAR p. 30, Eff. 1/13/89; AMD, 1990 MAR p. 936, Eff. 5/18/90; TRANS, from DSL, 1996 MAR p. 3042; AMD, 1999 MAR p. 811, Eff. 4/23/99; AMD, 2004 MAR p. 2548, Eff. 10/22/04.

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