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Wetland mitigation banking; Wetland conservation--Law and legislation--Minnesota


The Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act (WCA), is a "no-net-loss" state wetland protection program that became law in June 1991. The WCA prohibits the draining and filling of wetlands unless replaced by restored or created wetlands of equal or greater public value under an approved replacement plan. Local government units (LGUs) administer this state program that includes a comprehensive yet simple wetland function and value assessment to achieve wetland replacement. The WCA also was the impetus for the development of a state wetland banking system which allows both public and private sector project sponsors to participate.

The resultant system evaluates existing wetlands based on type, location, inlet/outlet characteristics and special or local factors. An LGU can use the system to determine the amount of replacement wetland needed to mitigate adverse impacts. System implementation began in January 1994 and agencies will monitor results for needed improvements (such as regionalization).

The Minnesota State Wetland Banking Program incorporates the same evaluation methodology, and was designed to be simple and flexible while conserving wetland functions and values. The banking program was based on federal models to assure maximum consistency with the mitigation requirements of Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act. Projects will be approved, managed, and monitored by LGUs and landowners with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources providing oversight and central record keeping. Public and private interests can buy and sell credits at costs determined by free-market factors.

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