The purpose of the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) is to maintain and protect Minnesota's wetlands and the benefits they provide.
In 1991, the Minnesota Legislature approved the Wetland Conservation Act. The project began in 1993 in response to concerns about wetland management processes such as permitting, unclear state policies, and methods to achieve the state's goal of no net loss of wetlands. The law requires anyone proposing to drain or fill a wetland first to try the following:
- To avoid disturbing the wetland;
- Try to minimize any impact on the wetland; and
- Replace any lost wetland acres, functions, and values.
Minnesota's Wetland Conservation Act is considered one of the most comprehensive wetland laws in the country. It recognizes a number of benefits wetlands provide, including:
- Water quality benefits, including filtering pollutants out of surface water and groundwater, using nutrients that would otherwise pollute public waters, trapping sediments, protecting shoreline, and recharging groundwater supplies;
- Floodwater and storm water retention benefits, including reducing the potential for flooding in the watershed;
- Public recreation and education benefits, 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 benefits during times of drought; and
- Other public uses.
The Board of Water and Soil Resources requires that under this grant program, a county must agree to transfer a minimum of $5,000 (or 15 percent of their allocation, whichever is greatest) to the Soil and Water Conservation District for the implementation of Wetland Conservation Act activities within 120 days of receipt of Natural Resources Block Grant funds.
1 to 1 cash and/or in-kind