Minnesota Wetland Report
numbers collected from 1997 and 1998 support an earlier trend of WCA
serving as a deterrent to projects impacting wetlands. Again for
these two years, about 75 percent of initial landowner inquires
about draining or filling wetlands resulted in project revision to
avoid wetlands. This continues to be one of the Acts most
wetland replacement appears to be stabilizing at around 350 acres
per year. Replacement
is required via approved plans when wetland draining or filling is
significant event during 1998 was the development of a new reporting
system to track WCA (and other natural resource program) numbers.
Called the Local Government Annual Reporting System (LARS), it
requires the local governments that implement the WCA to report data
more specifically and completely.
While it will eventually result in better data and more
accurate analysis, it created problems comparing pre-1998 data with
1998 data. Several apparent anomalies between past and current data
are difficult to categorize as genuine changes or merely results of
changes to reporting procedures. Additional years of consistent data
collection will allow more careful evaluation of these figures.
major development in recent years was the beginning of the Road
Replacement Program. Amendments approved to the WCA during the 1996
legislative session switched the responsibility for replacement of
wetlands lost to repair or upgrade of existing roads from local
governments to the BWSR. Wetland replacement due to road repair
required about 106 acres in 1996, 208 acres in 1997 and 168 acres is
1998. The program
requires about $2.35 million in funding per year to meet replacement
attention to the functional assessment of wetlands also received a
great deal of attention, both at the state and federal level, during
1997. The Minnesota Interagency Wetland Group developed the
Minnesota Routine Assessment Method for Evaluating Wetland Functions
(MnRAM), a tool for evaluating wetlands based on function rather
than merely size and type. (MnRAM is available on the web at www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish_and_wildlife/wetlands/wetlandscon.html).
The federal government developed a similar, although more detailed,
functional evaluation method. Both of these new tools reflect the
growing agreement that wetland functions, while difficult to assess,
provide an accurate and realistic reflection of a wetlands value.
also saw the completion of the Minnesota Wetlands Conservation Plan
(available on the web at www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish_and_wildlife/wetlands/wetlandscon.html),
a comprehensive look at wetlands management in Minnesota.
The plan, sponsored collaboratively by a variety of state
agencies and funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), used input from a series of meetings
throughout the state to determine ways to make Minnesotas wetland
programs more effective and efficient.
Finally, BWSR and other state agencies continued their ongoing efforts to streamline wetland regulations, both at the state level and between the state and federal governments. One key development was the introduction in January 2000 of a new letter of permission (LOP) process for wetland permitting by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, replacing the old nationwide permitting process. The LOP uses many of the standards contained in WCA, meaning that a project permitted through WCA will generally also be permitted through the Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, landowners can now apply for the Army Corps of Engineers permit at their local government office, where they also apply for WCA permits.
Minnesota Board of Water and Soil