Wetlands Conservation Act (WCA)
Wetlands Conservation Act was passed into law in 1991 (and amended in
1993, 1994, 1996 and 2000), with the purpose of:
- Achieving no net loss in the quantity, quality and biological diversity of Minnesota’s existing wetlands;
- Increasing the quantity, quality and biological diversity of Minnesota’s wetlands by restoring or enhancing diminished or drained wetland;
- Avoiding direct or indirect impacts from activities that destroy or diminish the quantity, quality, and biological diversity of wetlands; and
- 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.
Local government units administer the Wetlands Conservation Act with oversight provided by the Board of Soil & Water Resources.
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.