Crow Wing County Wetland Jursidiction:
Call Jacob Frie, 218-824-1124
In Minnesota, it is estimated that 11 million acres of wetland areas has been lost in the last 100 years. There are approximately 9 million acres remaining. The Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) was passed in 1991. The ultimate goal of the Act is no net loss of wetlands.
It is important to note that WCA applies to all Minnesota wetlands, except those listed on the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) inventory of public waters and wetlands.
The Benefits of Wetlands
- Provides flood control by storing excess water during rain events and spring melting.
- Increases water quality by filtering sediments and nutrients before they enter lakes, rivers and streams.
- Provide habitat for fish, birds, amphibians and other wildlife.
- Provides erosion control by slowing the flow of water between upland.
- Provides habitat for rare, endangered and threatened plants and animals.
- Provides groundwater recharge by detaining water and allowing it to percolate to the water table.
How can you tell an area is a wetland?
- Three conditions must be present to define an area as a wetland:
- Hydric soils- soils that show characteristics of development under wet conditions. Peat is an example of a hydric soil.
- Hydrology- water present either above or below the surface.
- Hydrophytic vegetation- vegetation that is adapted to living in wet conditions.
- Examples of hydrophytic vegetation include: pitcher plants, lady slippers, jack-in-the-pulpit, sedges, tamarack, black spruce
How do Wetlands relate to the SWCD?
- Providing information regarding wetlands and requirements of WCA.
- Provide assistance as needed regarding wetland restoration, replacement plan and banking procedures
- Serve as a member of the Technical Evaluation Panel (TEP)
- SWCD serves wetland property owners, generally within city limits
Wetlands 101: What to Know Before You Work
St. Paul, Minn. – Minnesota’s landscape includes roughly 10.6 million acres of wetlands. While many people think of wetlands as swampy, marshy areas with standing water and cattails, the reality is wetlands take on many forms. In addition to swampy, marshy areas, wetlands can vary from grassy meadows, to forested wetlands covered in trees and shrubs, to wet areas of cultivated farm fields. Many wetlands are actually dry for most of the year, with no standing water.
Why Wetlands Matter
Before European settlement, studies estimate Minnesota had over 20 million acres of wetland. Today that number has been cut in half. Wetlands are important ecosystems. They hold water, providing for natural water quality improvements by filtering nutrients and sediment that might otherwise pollute and clog waterways. They provide flood protection and shoreline erosion control. Wetlands are also home to many species of fish and wildlife.
Most wetlands in Minnesota are protected by State and/or Federal law, and in some cases by local ordinances. Minnesota’s primary wetland protection law is the Wetland Conservation Act. The law is implemented by local governments, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources provides assistance and oversight, and the Department of Natural Resources provides enforcement.
- The State law applies to all wetlands, including those on private property, to achieve “no net loss” of wetlands.
- In general, wetland protection laws regulate activities in or near wetlands that can negatively affect the wetland through draining, filling, or excavating.
- There are some exemptions contained within State law for certain activities.
What You Should Know
It can be very difficult to identify wetlands and wetland regulations can be quite complex. Some examples of projects that could potentially affect wetlands include:
- Filling a low area of a residential lot for a building or lawn
- Tiling wet areas of cultivated fields
- Digging a pond in a low area
- Cleaning out an old ditch or improving an existing ditch
- Adding fill for a crossing of a stream or wet swale
If there is the potential for your project to impact a wetland, before you start it is important to contact your local WCA regulatory authority to:
- Find out if the land you intend to alter is a wetland. Remember, an area can be a wetland even if it does not appear wet on the surface.
- Determine if the proposed activity has impacts to a wetland area.
- Assure that any impact to wetlands can be avoided if possible, and properly replaced if not.
If you don’t know where to start, your local Soil and Water Conservation District can help you determine which agency is your local contact.
Cooperation is a key component of successful conservation. Local, state, and federal wetland regulatory agencies work in partnership with landowners to help them achieve the best possible results on their private land.
For more information about wetlands in Minnesota, see the Board of Water and Soil Resources website athttp://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/