Minnesota Wetland Report
A. The Wetland Conservation Act
In 1991, reacting to public concern about Minnesotas disappearing wetlands, the Minnesota Legislature approved (and Governor Arne Carlson later signed) the Wetland Conservation Act. Considered one of the most comprehensive wetland laws in the country, it recognizes a number of wetland benefits deemed important:
retain these benefits and reach the legislations goal of
no-net-loss of wetlands, the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) requires
anyone proposing to drain or fill a wetland first to try to avoid
disturbing the wetland; second, to try to minimize any impact on the
wetland; and, finally, to replace any lost wetland acres, functions,
and values. (This process is called sequencing in the law.)
Certain wetland activities are exempt from the Act, allowing
projects with minimal impact or projects located on land where
certain pre-established land uses are present to proceed without
government units (LGUs)cities, counties, watershed management
organizations, soil and water conservation districts, and
townshipsimplement the Act locally. The Minnesota Board of Water
and Soil Resources (BWSR) administers the Act statewide, and the
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) enforces it.
Wetland Conservation Act took effect with an interim program in 1992
and became fully effective in January 1994.
During its first few years, legislators, state and federal
agency personnel, local governments and interest groups focused on
fine-tuning areas of the legislation that proved controversial and
difficult to implement. The
Legislature approved several significant changes to WCA in 1996 and
the current law seems to have struck a balance between resource
protection and land development.
This report contains Wetland Conservation Act information
reported by local governments as well as state and some federal
agencies for calendar years 1997 and 1998. Some data from previous
years are included to show trends.
Minnesota Board of Water and Soil