SWCD (218) 326-0017
NRCS (218) 326-6595
FAX (218) 326-8938

Itasca County Soil and Water Conservation District

Wetlands

What is a wetland

A site is considered a wetland when all three of the following wetland characteristics are met: 1) the presence of hydric soils (which develop under wet conditions), 2) the presence of hydrology (meaning the soil is inundated or saturated with water to within 12 inches of the surface for at least 5% of the growing season)  3) the presence of hydrophytic vegetation (plants that are capable of living in or near water where oxygen can be limited or absent in the soil for extended periods of time). 

Wetlands Types

Type 8
Type 8
Type 7
Type 7
Type 6
Type 6
Type 5
Type 5
Type 4
Type 4
Type 3
Type 3
Type 2
Type 2
Type 1
Type 1

Wetland Technical Assistance

The Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) applies to all Minnesota wetlands. The Local Government Unit (LGU) has the primary responsibility for administration of the Act and making key wetland determinations.  In Itasca County the LGU is the Itasca Soil and Water Conservation District.  Minnesota DNR Conservation Officers enforce wetlands violations.  Wetlands that are identified on the DNR inventory of protected waters and wetlands are regulated solely by the DNR.  If you are planning a project, purchasing or selling property, or are curious about wetlands on your property your first contact should be the Itasca SWCD.  Staff at the SWCD are trained in identifying wetlands and wetland boundaries as well as interpreting the wetland regulation and how it may or may not effect your project.

An initial site visit with technical information is provided FREE of charge.  Additional site visits, official delineations, plan applications, development, and review all have fees associated.  On February 7, 2006 the Itasca SWCD Board adopted the following fee schedule:

WCA Technical Advice...........................................Free
Replacement/Restoration Plan (<10,000 sf)............$150 + $45/hr
Replacement/Restoration Plan (10,000 sf-1.0 ac)...$250 + $45/hr
Replacement/Restoration Plan (>1.0 acre)..............$500/ac+$45/hr
Exemption Certificate..............................................$85
Wetland Banking Application.................................$250 + $45/hr
Wetland Delineations...............................................$85 + $45/hr
Formal Wetland Type/Boundary Determination.....$85 + $45/hr
Restoration/Replacement Order...............................$250 + $45/hr

All fees doubled for after-the-fact (violations) services/applications


The Wetland Conservation Act

In 1991, the Wetland Conservation Act was passed in Minnesota.  The goal of the Act was to protect Minnesota's valuable wetlands through no net loss of the states remaining natural wetlands.  The Act designates that before any activity regarding draining, filling, or excavating occurs in a wetland an attempt must be made to first avoid the impact to the wetland, and if the impact can not be avoided, the impact must be minimized, and if the impact can not be minimized then the wetland must be replaced with one of equal public value.

Wetlands on Private Land

Both landowners and contractors hired by the landowner to conduct work in a wetland need to be sure the work is allowed under the WCA and that all necessary permits have been obtained.  All activities in wetlands are regulated to some degree.  Some activities require permits called Wetland Replacement Plans while other activities may not need permits and are considered exempt from the replacement requirement of the law.  Before any activity that will result in an impact to a wetland may take place, the landowner must demonstrate compliance with "sequencing".  In order to comply with sequencing the landowner must in the following order: 1) design their project in a manner that AVOIDS direct or indirect impacts to wetlands 2) MINIMIZE impacts to the extent possible and 3) REPLACE the impact to the wetland with a wetland of equal or greater public value.

Wetland Regulation Enforcement

DNR Conservation Officers and other peace officers are in charge of enforcing the Wetland Conservation Act.  If an officer suspects illegal wetland activity he or she may issue cease and desist order or simply have a discussion with you about their concerns.  You will be directed to contact the LGU and or SWCD.  The LGU or SWCD will then schedule a meeting on site with the landowner and sometimes with the officer.  The LGU or SWCD will look at the area of concern and gather some data to determine whether or not a violation has occurred.  If a violation has occurred the LGU or SWCD will notify the enforcement officer who may then issue a restoration or replacement order.  Non-compliance of the cease and desist and restoration orders is a misdemeanor.  Criminal prosecution of violations under the WCA is pursued by county attorneys.  The Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) or County Zoning Office may also pursue criminal prosecution if illegal activity occurs in wetlands under their jurisdiction.  You may contact the SWCD or LGU at any time to review your project so you can be sure you have all the required forms and permits.







Wetland Replacement

Prior to approval of your replacement plan, and as part of your replacement plan, you will need to determine which method of replacement to pursue.   If you receive approval of a replacement plan for your project you will need to replace the wetland impacts from your project.  There are generally two methods used to accomplish wetland replacement; project specific or wetland banking.  Project specific replacement means you will either create or restore a wetland large enough to offset the loss from your project.  Wetland banking means you have the ability to purchase wetland bank credits to offset the loss from your project.  Wetland bank credits are developed and sold by private individuals in an open market environment.