The Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) enacted in 1991, is based on the concept of, “no net loss of wetland”. To the property owner, this means that any activity in or around a wetland should be reviewed to determine if wetland impact could occur.
If you have a project that might affect a wetland.… Begin early. Contact the South St. Louis County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) at 218-722-6109 for appropriate guidance. Before a wetland is drained, filled or excavated, three questions need to be answered: is the project in a wetland: would the project be exempt; will wetland replacement be required?
1. Is the project in a wetland? An area can be a wetland even if it does not appear wet on the surface. The SWCD will either assist with this determination or direct you appropriately.
2. If the project is within a wetland, would it qualify for an exemption? Submit Part I of the Combined Project Application Form (CPA) to:
Local Government Unit (LGU),
Army Corp of Engineer (ACOE),
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)
The SWCD or LGU can supply this form. This form provides the agencies with the information necessary to determine if the project qualifies for an exemption. The agencies will contact you within 45 days of mailing the CPA. Do not begin any work until the agencies have responded to the application.
3. Will wetland replacement be required? If the project is not eligible for an exemption, a plan to reduce the impact and replace the wetland loss must be prepared by the landowner and approved by the LGU. To begin this process complete and submit Part II of the CPA to the agencies stated above.
Wetland replacement can be accomplished by:
Constructing a new wetland on an upland are
Restoring a previously drained or filled wetland
Purchasing credits from the state wetland bank
The process for review and approval of a replacement plan can take up to 70 days, so give yourself plenty of time for the paperwork and the project. The project cannot begin until the wetland impacted by the project is replaced.
The Wetland Conservation Act is just one of several laws the property owner must be aware of when working in a wetland. If you have any questions regarding WCA or have a project in or near a wetland, contact the District for assistance.