Minnesota Wetland Report
VIII. Wetland Gains and Losses
the WCA achieved its objective of no-net-loss of wetlands on a
statewide basis? Despite the
impressive wetland gains reported above and the increased public
awareness of the importance of wetlands, the answer is probably
difficult to estimate exactly how far Minnesota is from that goal.
Significant wetland losses take place through activities that
require no approvals or permits, making them impossible to
accurately track. Examples of
these types of activities include:
- Exemptions from the
Wetland Conservation Act. The
1996 legislative amendments expanded some of the exemptions,
most notably: i) the de minimis exemption, which now
ranges from 400 square feet to a maximum of 10,000 square feet
per project and which can be deducted from the amount of wetland
to be replaced; and ii) several agricultural exemptions for
drainage projects to improve land for crop production.
In 1997, local government units made 1,000 exemption
determinations upon request by landowners.
These exemptions resulted in at least 1,022 acres of
wetlands drained or filled.
As noted above, since exempt activities do not
require government approval there are unreported wetland losses
(i.e., beyond those noted here) that cannot be tracked.
- Exemptions and
nationwide permits not requiring mitigation from the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers Federal Section 404 Program.
wetland impacts approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
for farm program participants.
- Unreported violations
of all programs.
difficult as it is to estimate wetland gains and losses on an
acreage basis, it is even more difficult to measure the functional
gains and losses resulting from wetland projects.
Wetlands are important because of how they function in the
hydrologic and ecological systems. However,
quantitative information on wetland functions, while even more
relevant than total acreage, is not available.
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