North DakotaELI State Wetland Protection Status, Trends, & Model Approaches
View North Dakota Report in PDF

Print this page in PDF


Original Wetland Acreage Remaining Wetland Acreage Acreage Lost % Lost
4,927,500 2,490,000 2,437,500 -49%


North Dakota Wetlands:  More than 90 percent of the wetlands in the State are classified as natural basin wetlands, commonly called prairie potholes. The prairie potholes primarily contain persistent-emergent wetlands, variously called wet meadows, marshes, and fens. Other palustrine classes that exist but are not common in North Dakota are scrub-shrub wetlands and forested wetlands. 

(Please click on heading below to go to that section.)

Summary Features Regulation Water Quality Standards Mitigation Monitoring and Assessment Restoration Public/Private Partnerships





Overall Program:

The state regulates activities in state waters and drainage of some wetlands pursuant to its wetland statute. 

Innovative Features and New Programs/Initiatives:

The state has adopted an overall no net loss goal and a mitigation bank. 

State Wetland Conservation Plan


No Net Loss/Net Gain Goal




Wetland Regulatory Statutes and Administrative Rules

ND Cent. Code #61-01-22, 61-02-14, 61-02-20. Permits are required from the State Water Resources Commission for activities in state waters and drainage of certain ponds, sloughs, and lakes including dikes, dams, and other channel modifications.
ND Cent. Code #61-32-01 et. seq. Permits are required from the state engineer for draining of a wetland with a watershed area of 80 acres or more. The state water policy and impacts on downstream landowners are considered. The regulatory responsibility is shared by the state engineer and the local water resource districts, if the project is determined to be of statewide or water inter district significant. If not, responsibility rests solely with the appropriate water resource district. The state engineer is also responsible for managing and authorizing activity on state sovereign lands described as beds of navigatable lakes and streams.

Wetland Definition and/or Delineation; Comparability With Federal Definition

“Wetland” includes any natural depression that is capable of holding shallow, temporary, intermittent or permanent water. 

Evaluation Methodology

None identified. 

Regulated and Exempted Activities

None identified. 

Special Provisions for Agriculture and Forestry

Drainage of wetlands is regulated for watersheds that are at under 80 acres. See Wetlands Regulatory statute above. 

Penalties and Enforcement

None identified. 

Permit Tracking

None identified. 

State General Permit (PGP or SPGP) for 404

None identified. 

Assumption of Section 404 Powers

Assumption has been explored, but funding is a major obstacle. 

Joint Permitting

Not Applicable. 

Special Area Management Plans and Advanced Identification Plans

None identified. 

Role of Local Governments

None identified. 

Staffing (Regulatory Staff) 

No information.

Water Quality Standards

Wetlands and Water Quality Standards

In North Dakota, wetlands are waters of the state and therefore are protected by Water Quality Standards (WQS). The WQS that apply are aquatic life criteria for priority pollutants as well as narrative standards.

Wetland Definition

None identified. 

Designated Uses

None identified.

Narrative and/or Numeric Criteria

None identified.

Antidegradation Policy

The antidegradation policy and implementation procedures apply to wetlands if a 402 or 404 permit action is initiated.


None identified.

Staffing (Wetland Water Quality Staff)

None identified.


Mitigation Policy

There is an informal one for one for one mitigation policy. 

Mitigation Banks

None identified. 

In Lieu Fee Program

None identified. 

Ad Hoc Arrangements

None identified. 

Mitigation Database

None identified. 

Staffing (Mitigation Staff)

None identified. 

Monitoring and Assessment

Mapping /Inventory 

Wetland Classification and Assessment

Annual waterfowl surveys in the spring include some wetland information as indices of water conditions. 

Overall Wetland Gain and Loss Tracking System

None identified.

Staffing (Monitoring and Assessment Staff.)

None identified. 


Program Description

None identified.

Restoration Program Goals

Not applicable. 

Eligibility Criteria

Not applicable. 

Restoration Database

Not applicable. 

Staffing (Wetland Restoration Program Staff.)

None identified. 

Public/Private Partnerships

Acquisition Program

The state cost-shares in creating compensation wetlands.

Public Outreach/Education

None identified. 

Tax Incentives

None identified. 

Technical Assistance

None identified. 

Other Nonregulatory Incentives for Private Landowners

None identified. 

Wetland Training and Education

None identified. 

Watershed Planning

None identified. 

Special Problems

None identified. 


None identified. 

Contact Person(s)

Steve Dyke
North Dakota Fish and Game Department
100 N. Bismarck Expressway
Bismarck, ND 58501
(701) 328-6347 
Michael Sauer
North Dakota State Department of Health
P.O. Box 5520
Bismarck, ND 58502-5520
(701) 221-5210 
Craig Odenbach
North Dakota State Engineers Office
(701) 328-4954

Contact Points 

Guidebooks, Brochures, Websites, Other Educational Materials

None identified specific to North Dakota.