Resources in the state are protected, managed, and restored, through
a multi-program approach administered by the Minnesota Department
of Natural Resources (DNR), the Board of Water and Soil Resources
(BWSR), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and
Local Government Units (LGU).
Features and New Programs/Initiatives:
enactment of the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) of 1991 provided
for a variety of innovations in wetland protection including
tax incentives, easement acquisition programs, a statewide wetland
banking program, and local comprehensive wetland protection
and management planning. Additionally, shoreland
and floodplain zoning programs also exist at the local level
to protect wetland resources in these critical landscapes.
Wetland Conservation Plan
in 1997. A state/federal interagency resource group has
undertaken several initiatives to accomplish various plan goals. Efforts currently underway include developing
and promoting a shared state/federal/local wetland permits database
for the state, developing an approved functional assessment methodology
for the state, development of local wetland management plans and
model ordinances, and improved monitoring of wetland replacements
(mitigation) required under state/federal/local permits.
The plan is available at: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/ecological_services/wetlands/wetland.pdf.
Net Loss/Net Gain Goal
no net loss goal and policy has been adopted by the State of Minnesota
via Executive Order 00-02 re-issued by Governor Ventura, state
statute, and rule subject to state and local regulations.
Regulatory Statutes and Administrative Rules
|A comprehensive description of Minnesota’s regulatory program
is available at http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/wetlands/publications/MNRegulations.pdf.
Wetlands in Minnesota are regulated under state authorities found
in Minnesota Statute 103 and promulgated in administrative rules
Parts 6115 and 8420. These
authorities regulate the draining and filling of all wetlands
within the state. Additionally,
excavation in types 3, 4, and 5 wetlands (USFWS Circular #39)
is also regulated. These
are implemented separately from the federal Clean Water Act (CWA)
or River and Harbors Act regulations by the federal government.
Definition and/or Delineation; Comparability With
wetland definitions are similar to the federal definitions found
in the federal CWA. The
WCA rules (MN Rule 8420) require use of the 1987 U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers (Corps) Wetland Delineation Manual to define the
boundary of wetlands subject to regulation under this state law.
Conversely, the DNR Protected Waters Program uses an approach
that relies upon establishment of the “Ordinary High Water Mark”
to define the jurisdiction of wetlands regulated under the Protected
Waters Permit (PWP) program they administer (MN Rules 6115).
All wetlands are considered waters of the state for the purposes
of MN Rules 7050 pertaining to water quality standards administered
by the MPCA.
Rules 8420 contains language requiring the use of methods approved
by BWSR for evaluating wetlands.
This list contains a multitude of methods currently available
in the public domain, including but not limited to, WET, HGM,
Oregon Freshwater Wetland Assessment Method, and Minnesota Routine
Assessment Method. Other
methods can be applied once they receive approval from the BWSR
as valid for evaluating wetlands.
is seamless regulatory coverage for wetlands across the state
through the two state wetland regulatory programs. WCA and the
PWP program regulate the draining, filling and excavating actions
in wetlands and public waters. Like the federal CWA, each program contains
several exemptions for certain limited activities. Currently, WCA contains ten (10) categories
of exempted activities for activities like silviculture,
utilities, incidental wetlands, and agricultural activities regulated
through the federal farm program under Swampbuster. The PWP provides exemptions for 14 activities
such as riprap, debris removal, and seasonal docks.
for Agriculture and Forestry
program contains exemptions or other provisions to allow for
certain agricultural and silvicultural activities within wetlands of the state similar
to those found in the federal CWA.
Under each program, wetlands may be used for the purposes
of pasture or cropland during periods of drought provided it
does not result in draining, filling or excavating wetlands.
Additionally, WCA provides exemptions for those wetlands
enrolled in and receiving federal farm program benefits, as
these wetlands are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
through the Swampbuster provisions
of the federal farm bill. WCA
also provides an exemption for the construction of forest roads
necessary to conduct silvicultural
activities. However, activities conducted under this and
all exemptions must limit the impact on the hydrologic and biologic
characteristics of the wetland.
program is enforced by the MN-DNR through conservation officers. Both provide for the issuance of cease and desist orders and civil restoration orders. Failure to comply with each is a criminal misdemeanor
under Minnesota Statute 103G.
the issuing local government unit tracks permits issued under
the WCA. Annually, WCA activity by LGUs
is reported to the BWSR. The DNR Division of Water staff tracks permits
issued under the PWP program.
No central tracking system currently exists.
Permit (PGP or SPGP) for 404
|See joint permitting below.
of Section 404 Powers
directs this activity to occur and the BWSR is considering this
undertaking to streamline and simplify state wetland permitting
activities. However, legislative
changes may be necessary before assumptions could occur.
permitting currently occurs between the PWP program and the Corps.
The state is pursuing another General Permit
with the Coprs for the WCA program. Additionally, there is a joint permitting effort
between the PWP program and the WCA.
This allows for waiver of permit authorities between the
programs on a case-by-case basis to reduce regulatory duplication.
Area Management Plans and Advanced Identification Plans
WCA provides for the development of a “local comprehensive wetland
protection and management plan” for implementation of WCA through
ordinance at the local government level. To date, approximately 15 local governments
either have or are completing a local wetland management plan. Currently no Special Area Management Plans (SAMPS)
exist in Minnesota; however, the Corps may begin to endorse local
plans as SAMPS for Section 404 purposes.
of Local Governments
|LGUs are the primary implementers of WCA, reviewing
and approving or denying replacement and/or wetland banking plans
at the local level. Additionally,
they perform a formal commenter role providing input to DNR Division
of Waters on PWP issues.
PWP program maintains a multitude of staff at the area, regional
and state level to administer the program.
BWSR maintains a staff of 20 persons providing program
administration and assists 200-plus local governments implement
WCA across the state. Additionally,
DNR maintains several positions in enforcement and program support
to assist with program implementation and oversight.
Water Quality Standards
and Water Quality Standards
1994, the state codified narrative wetland water quality standards
incorporating wetlands as Waters of the State. Wetlands are included
in the state use classification system and include 2D Aquatic-Life
Use, 3D Industrial Consumption, 4C Agricultural and Wildlife,
class 5 Aesthetic Enjoyment and Navigation, class 56 Other Uses,
and Class 7 Limited Use Waters.
Wetlands are also included in the State’s nondegredation
process for National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
and State Disposal System (SDS) permit programs.
are considered waters of the state for the purposes of MN Rules
7050 pertaining to water quality standards administered by the
MPCA. For additional information
see wetland definition under “Regulation” above.
and/or Numeric Criteria
mentioned above, the state has designated use classifications
for the state’s wetland. Unless
specified, wetlands are protected for classes 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
MPCA is currently conducting biological assessments using the
Index of Biological Indicators (IBI) to gather baseline data for
mentioned above, wetlands are included in the State’s non-degradation
processes for NPDES and SDS. MPCA
anticipates development of Total Daily Maximum Load standards
for wetlands for wetlands as funding and staffing allows.
(Wetland Water Quality Staff)
two (2) FTE’s are allocated to wetland water quality by the MPCA.
subject to regulation under the state’s PWP program, WCA program,
and Section 401 Water Quality Certification program are all subject
to compensatory mitigation requirements.
Projects proposed for the WCA and Section 404 federal CWA
programs are required to sequence (i.e. avoid, minimize) before
compensating for any unavoidable impacts specified.
the federal Section 404 Program, WCA provides for the use of wetland
banks as compensatory mitigation.
The BWSR administers a statewide wetland-banking program,
which contains wetland bank accounts from the construction of
public and private banks. This
bank system is utilized for compensating impact to wetlands under
all state/federal wetland regulations including the mitigation
requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Swampbuster
Lieu Fee Program
the state does not maintain a statewide in “In Lieu Fee Program,”
several LGU’s maintain such as part of their local Comprehensive Wetland
Protection and Management Plan.
These plans allow for variations of state wetland replacement
standards based on an analysis of functions and values within
the area managed through the plan. The In Lieu Fee parts of these
plans generally allow for applicants with approved impacts to
pay into a LGU provided In Lieu account at a specified amount.
Money generated through this process is used to conduct
public value natural resource projects in the plan area.
Projects are selected by a technical committee made up
of federal, state, and local natural resource persons from the
local area having jurisdiction over the impact or managing resources
affected by the approved wetland impact.
|The only arrangement
of this type in Minnesota currently is the state’s transportation
programs. Presently, the
legislature allocates funding to BWSR to perform replacement of
wetland impacts created by upgrades to existing city, county,
or township roads. BWSR
uses these funds to offset wetland impacts through: 1) purchasing
wetland credits from the statewide bank; 2) conducting acquisition
and restoration of wetlands; and 3) restoring and acquiring permanent
Additionally, the MN Department of Transportation (MNDOT) is also
solely responsible to mitigate impacts from its projects. To accomplish
this, MNDOT also mitigates impacts through the same approaches
used by the BWSR to offset local transportation impacts.
state maintains several reporting mechanisms to track losses and
gains in wetland resources. BWSR
maintains an LGU reporting system for various actions under the
WCA. Additionally, BWSR maintains a statewide wetland-banking
database to track deposits and debits.
DNR Division of Waters maintains data regarding its permit
actions under the state waters program. Additionally, the Corps also maintains a database
for its Section 10 and 404 Permit program actions.
|Currently, BWSR maintains
seven (7) staff with wetland mitigation responsibilities.
Additionally, over 200 LGUs also
oversee mitigation as part of their duties under the WCA.
DNR also maintains staff with responsibilities for ensuring
mitigation compliance as conditions of their PWP program.
Monitoring and Assessment
state has several geographic coverages
that involve wetlands. The
most notable is the National Wetland Inventory, which covers the
entire state. These maps were completed in the early 1990’s
and made available for use. Additionally,
the DNR maintains waters/wetland maps that contain those waters
or wetlands that are under their PWP
program jurisdiction. These
are available for each county in the state where public waters
or protected waters wetlands exist.
Additionally, many LGUs maintain Geographic Information System (GIS) data concerning
the wetlands and waters within their land use controls. Generally, mapping information for the state’s
wetlands uses the Cowardin Wetland Classification
System. DNR maps cover Circular 39 Types 3, 4, and 5 wetlands
only because of their limited wetland jurisdiction. For more information on Minnesota wetland maps visit: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/watermgmt_section/pwi/maps.html.
Classification and Assessment
state has developed a functional assessment method for use by
agencies and LGUs to evaluate wetlands.
This method is known as the Minnesota Routine Assessment
Method (MNRAM) and is generally used on a case-by-case basis
for permitting decisions. Additionally, several LGUs
have modified this method merging it with GIS, to use as a tool
for doing watershed planning and developing local comprehensive
wetland protection and management plans under the WCA.
Currently, this method is being updated to improve its
Wetland Gain and Loss Tracking System
|BWSR is required
to make a report to the Minnesota Legislature on a biennial basis
regarding the loss and gains to wetlands and waters of the state
as part of the program’s “No Net Loss” requirement.
This report is all encompassing covering local, state,
federal and non-governmental actions that affect wetland resources
of the state. Overall, the state has met or exceeded the “No
Net Loss” mandate of the Legislature.
and Assessment Staff.)
are 16 or more state staff, in various agencies, responsible
for conducting monitoring and assessment of the state’s wetland
resources. Additionally, there are 200 or more LGUs who also monitor wetlands as part of their WCA implementation
maintains several restoration programs that include wetlands. The Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program offers
landowners incentives to restore wetlands and other fragile lands
across the state. This program is administered by the BWSR and
DNR. BWSR has also participated in a Conservation
Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture to restore wetlands, floodplains and other lands to
improve water quality in the Minnesota River Watershed.
Additionally, the DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(FWS) acquire and restore wetlands through their habitat acquisition
programs. To date, these
programs have been responsible for the restoration of several
thousand acres of wetland resources across Minnesota.
vary depending upon the restoration program.
RIM and CREP are aimed at improving water quality and wildlife
habitats in the state. WCA
or Corps restoration goals are driven by the concept of “No Net
Loss” and the need for compensatory mitigation.
The DNR and FWS goals are wildlife or fisheries habitat
driven. Several non-governmental
organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy,
Pheasants Forever, and Minnesota Waterfowl Association also restore
wetlands for conservation purposes.
is determined on a program-by-program basis.
Most programs target restoration of pre-existing wetlands
or riparian habitats in rural settings.
Both public and private lands are eligible depending upon
the particular program undertaking the restoration.
single database exists to track restorations of wetland resources. Each agency maintains database information as
it pertains to work it conducts or authorizes.
BWSR collects and reports basic restoration data to the
legislature on a biennial basis.
(Wetland Restoration Program Staff.)
Staffing levels vary by agency and
|As mentioned above, several programs
exist for the acquisition of wetland resources through fee title
or by placement of a conservation easement.
Programs like RIM and CREP generally take perpetual easements
on wetlands being restored or preserved.
DNR and the FWS maintain fee title acquisition programs
to acquire wetlands. BWSR’s
road replacement program can obtain wetlands either by easement
or acquisition. Several
groups like The Nature Conservancy have conducted acquisition
of wetlands in the state.
involved in wetlands in Minnesota, conduct public outreach and education
about wetland resources annually through oral presentations or
distribution of written materials.
Several joint state/federal wetland regulatory brochures
are available and distributed to the general public.
A state wetland web page is currently under development. All wetland and water agencies have wetlands
as part of their agency web pages for the public to use. Additionally, several publications about wetland
resources have been created, published and distributed throughout
|Under the WCA,
counties and watershed districts may allow individual landowners
to apply to the state for property tax abatement on wetlands they
identified locally as high priority for preservation.
For more information visit: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/wetlands/taxation.html.
is available to private landowners through their local soil and
water conservation district. Additionally,
the FWS and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service also
provide such assistance to landowners in the state.
Nonregulatory Incentives for Private Landowners
|Several incentive programs operated
by the state and federal government exist.
Programs such as Reinvest in Minnesota, Conservation Reserve Enhancement
Program, Wetland Reserve Program are
available in various areas of the state.
Training and Education
team provides training to LGUs, state
and federal agency staffs and the private sector (as available)
on wetland delineation, restoration, functional assessments and
regulation. Additionally, all agencies generally conduct
some type of educational outreach on wetlands to the public. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/projectwet/index.html.
|Minnesota wetlands experience significant pressure
from agricultural activities and intense development pressures. Over half of the state is utilized for the production
of agricultural commodities. Much of this area is reliant upon
drainage infrastructure to carry out production. As drainage technology improves, more land is
being pattern tiled to improve or increase crop production, thus
causing additional wetland loss. In the area surrounding the Minneapolis-St.
Paul area and in the lake areas of the state, intensive land development
is occurring, increasing the desire to use all available lands
for residential and commercial development.
Much of these undeveloped areas consist of critical wetland
resources that are under threat of conversion.
state wetland team coordinates wetland issues across the state.
This team includes local, state, federal agency staff persons,
and several special interest or conservation groups.
Board of Water and Soil Resources
217 South Seventh Street, Suite 202
Brainerd, MN 56401
Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road, Box 32
St. Paul, MN 55155
Pollution Control Agency
520 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155
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