Photo of Wetland


                  Wetlands Conservation Act (WCA)

Purpose

The Minnesota Wetlands Conservation Act was passed into law in 1991 (and amended in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 2000), with the purpose of: 

  1. Achieving no net loss in the quantity, quality and biological diversity of Minnesota’s existing wetlands;
  2. Increasing the quantity, quality and biological diversity of Minnesota’s wetlands by restoring or enhancing diminished or drained wetland;
  3. Avoiding direct or indirect impacts from activities that destroy or diminish the quantity, quality, and biological diversity of wetlands; and
  4. Replacing wetland values where avoidance of activities is not feasible and prudent.

The Wetland Conservation Act achieves the purpose by requiring persons proposing to impact a wetland by draining, excavating, or filling to first attempt to avoid the impact; second, attempt to minimize the impact; and, finally, replace any impacted area with another wetland of equal function and value.  This sequence of events is summarized as … AVOID, MINIMIZE or REPLACE.

Administration

Local government units administer the Wetlands Conservation Act with oversight provided by the Board of Soil & Water Resources. 

Enforcement

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers and other peace officers provide enforcement of the act.   

Wetland Functions – What do Wetlands Do?

Functions of wetlands include:

    Water quality -  filtering of pollutants to surface and groundwater, utilization of nutrients          that would otherwise pollute public waters, trapping of sediments, shoreline protection, and utilization of the wetland as a recharge area for groundwater;
    Flood and storm water retention;
    Public recreation and education - hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and natural areas;
    Commercial uses - wild rice and cranberry growing and harvesting, aquaculture;
    Fish, wildlife, and native plant habitat;
    Low flow augmentation; and
    Other public uses.

For additional information see the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) web site.