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Autumn Forest

Wetlands and Delineation

The Wetland Conservation Act recognizes a number of wetland benefits deemed important, including:

Water quality, including filtering pollutants out of surface water and groundwater, using nutrients that would otherwise pollute public waters, trapping sediments, protecting shorelines and recharging groundwater supplies;


Floodwater and storm water retention, including reducing the potential for flooding in the watershed; Public recreation and education, including hunting and fishing areas, wildlife viewing areas and nature areas;


Commercial benefits, including wild rice and cranberry growing areas and aquaculture areas; Fish and wildlife benefits; Low-flow augmentation during times of drought.

Protecting Wetlands

A wetland is an area where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. Water saturation (hydrology) largely determines how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities living in and on the soil. Wetlands may support both aquatic and terrestrial species. The prolonged presence of water creates conditions that favor the growth of specially adapted plants and promote the development of characteristic wetland soils. There are many types of wetlands that vary across the state: bogs, marshes, shallow open water, swamps, wet meadows and seasonally-flooded lands.

In Minnesota, wetlands have been estimated to have lost 50% of their original acreage. In 1991, reacting to public concern about Minnesota’s disappearing wetlands, the Minnesota Legislature approved. Governor Arne Carlson signed the Wetland Conservation Act, one of the most sweeping wetland protection laws in the country. An interim program became effective January 1, 1992. On January 1, 1994, the full program began. The Legislature has amended the WCA significantly eleven times, mostly to accommodate the varying needs of the different geographic areas of Minnesota. Replacement must be decided by the Morrison SWCD, not the landowner. 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 regulation. 


Landowners wishing to avoid enforcement should make sure their project is within the State Regulations before proceeding. Contact our office for guidance or if you need a Wetland Conservation Act permit.

Wetland Conservation Act


Wetland questions?

Contact Alan Ringwelski, District Technician

Landowners should always seek direction first when attempting to work around wetlands. I can answer wetland related questions.

District Technician
- (320) 631-3554

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