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Minnesota GraphicWCA Stakeholder Advisory Committee

WCA Stakeholder Advisory Committee
March 21, 2006
St. Paul, Minnesota 


Bill Barton, Sierra Club
Wayne Brandt, Mn Forestry Assoc.
Jim Weidemenn, Mn Viewers Assn.
Mollie Dean, Sierra Club
Allyz Kramer, Mn Wetland Professionals Assoc.
Tom Warmka, Assn. of Mn  Counties
Frank Pafko, MnDOT
Roger Lake, Mn Assn. of Watershed Districts
Dale Krystosek, BWSR
Perry Bollum, DNR
Keith Hanson, Mn Power
Steven Commerford, Mn Soybean Growers Assn.
Les Bensch, Mn Conservation Federation
Sheila Vanney, Mn Assn. of Soil and Water Conserv. Districts
Dan Stinnett, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Bruce Gerbig,  DNR
Dan Girolamo, BWSR
Doug Fischer, Mn  County Engineers Assoc.
Rick Dahlman, DNR-Forestry
Brian Watson, Mn Assn. of Soil and Water Conserv. Districts
Marita Valencia, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Janette Brimmer, Mn Center for Environmental Advocacy
Greg Juenemann, Audubon Mn
Jonathan Wilmshurst, Asphalt Ready-Mix Asso. Of Mn
Mary Mueller
Dan Larson, Mn Rural Counties Caucus
LuAnn Tolliver, BWSR
Sandy Hooker, Mn Assoc. of Townships                                                    

Call to Order/Introductions

Dave Weirens called the meeting to order at 1:10 pm. Everyone in attendance introduced themselves.

Review First Meeting (February 22, 2006) Notes

Weirens asked if everyone had reviewed the February 22, 2006 meeting notes. No changes were noted.

Weirens discussed the meeting format and informed the Committee of a change that will be made to the schedule. The schedule was reorganized to allow for more time to discuss exemptions. Two meetings will be held on each of the following days from 9-12 and 1-4:

                        - April 11th or 12th

                        - April 25th

- May 9th

- May 23rd

An email will go out to Stakeholder Advisory Committee members to ask for which exemption groupings and available dates to try and allow members to attend the exemption meetings of greatest interest to them.

Review Current Wetland Data/WCA LGU Reporting:

Weirens discussed the reporting data currently required of LGUís by BWSR.

Doug Norris questioned if data is collected from LGUs that administer WCA but donít collect funds from BWSR for program administration. Weirens answered to say that they generally come via the Countyís reporting effort but this activity is not required. Grant funds do not reimburse full program costs.

LGUs are creating their own tracking systems, and then exporting data to E-Link.

A question was asked regarding whether exemption numbers are all-inclusive or just quantify those exemption requests handled by the LGU?

Brian Watson stated that Dakota SWCD uses the Notice of Decision to track WCA activity. The County, BWSR and DNR all get a copy via the mail.

A question was asked regarding the coverage of data. How much coverage do we have via reporting participation? It was assumed that we have holes in the data but generally the data is reported from all counties.

Mary Mueller inquired about the process required after a WCA violation has been identified. Perry Bollum, DNR, stated that a Cease and Desist Order is sent to the landowner and SWCD. A Restoration Order is generated that requires either replacement or restoration of the impacted area.

Mueller asked about the Ruther violation. Bollum explained that the courts sometimes determine the process. In Mr. Rutherís case, the judge ordered restitution in the publicsí favor so a fine was paid that resulted in a replacement site.

Appeal processes to BWSR are quasi-judicial. The number of appeals is increasing but the cause is unknown. Norris offered that the increase might be due to the applicantís ability to appeal a restoration order.

Ron Harnack stated that more work needs to be done to clarify the nexus between 404, WCA and Swampbuster. BWSR needs to make the WCA decision and then let 404 or Swamp Buster do its work.

Weirens went on to share Road Replacement Data from the 2003 Wetlands Report. A graph was reviewed that compared the overall impact with mitigation techniques used to comply with regulations.

Mueller asked if the Road Program impacts are replaced with approved credits? Weirens responded by stating, yes, the Road Program is held to the same standard as the private banks are held. Our goal is to have one mitigation bank in each watershed.

Someone stated that onsite mitigation is not required and this is a weakness of WCA. People can go outside with a penalty.

Mueller questioned whether replacement acres are done in kind and does anyone worry about quality? Weirens responded by saying that we need better measurement of wetland quality.

A question was asked about the documentation of total acres drained and filled. The response was to check the Wetland Report. Minnesota is in a wetland gain situation when looking at human induced impacts.

Comprehensive Wetland Assessment, Mapping, and Monitoring Strategy Presentation:

Mark Gernes, MPCA, reported that he and others are working to develop the Comprehensive Wetland Assessment, Monitoring and Mapping Strategy. He stated that the goal is no net loss in quality, quantity and biological diversity.

Gernes discussed the age of the current NWI maps and explained the need for new data.

The new system is going to work with ORM and will be geo-referenced. The site will dynamically update NWI. Data warehouses will be used to hold and manage data that is submitted by LGUís, permit applicants and state and federal agencies.                      

Discuss Options

Weirens shared details about the effort to solicit more data from LGUs regarding reporting.

Janette Brimmer, MCEA, offered an idea that landowners could request an exemption online via self-certification.

It was also stated that exemptions were granted by the Legislature to limit the waste of resources needed to track every activity.

Weirens shared that reporting needs to be improved for WCA and Public Water activities. It is proposed that a WCA/Public Water Program Work Group be formed to review the current system of WCA reporting by LGUís and reporting the occurs under the Department of Natural Resources Public Waters Work Program.

This Work Group needs to consider the following in its examination: the accuracy, consistency and completeness of data, and the value of the data must commensurate with the effort to collect the data. The proposal is to complete this review concurrently with the overall assessment process.

Brimmer stated that the opportunity to voice concerns must start without restraint so the work group has latitude to research all areas of exemptions.

Bill Barton, Sierra Club, commented that BWSR has to make reporting easier. This would allow private entities the ability to report impacts easily without hardship.

Rick Dahlman, DNR, commented on the inconsistencies between the 8420 rule (WCA) and the 7050 rule (water quality). These conflicts need to be addressed. Other issues include the forestry exemption and whether or not MPCA will continue to waive 401 certification. There was concern that the 7050 rule will impact the application of all exemptions.

Ron Harnack informed the group that MPCA Commissioner Corrigan has stated that they will continue to waive 401 certification. Harnack mentioned that we should focus on regulatory efficiency and sustain effectiveness. He also commented that the group is informal and we will not be using formal processes that would include resolutions.

Norris questioned the PCA 7050 rule and WCA exemption issue. MPCA has requested that we use the assessment process to address the forestry topic.

If issues arise that are not within the ďassessment scopeĒ they will be placed in a parking lot for future discussion if time allows. A question regarding how the 7050 rules are or are not like the 401 certification was put into the parking lot.

Questions were asked about who will be on the work group. Weirens stated that WCA LGUís, DNR-Waters, and BWSR will be represented on the Work Group. It was suggested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service should be on the Work Group.

Phere was also discussion of how the Work Group would interact with the Advisory Committee. The Work Group will report back to the Advisory Committee. The Committee, by consensus agreed with the establishment of the WCA/Public Water Program Work Group. This option will be forwarded to the BWSR Wetland Committee.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 pm.

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