WHEN MOST PEOPLE THINK OF WETLANDS, THEY THINK OF SWAMPY, MARSHY AREAS COMPLETE WITH DUCKS AND CATTAILS. WHILE THOSE AREAS ARE INDEED WETLANDS, MANY OTHER WETLANDS LOOK QUITE DIFFERENT AND MAY EVEN HAVE NO SURFACE WATER FOR ALL OR PART OF THE YEAR. SOME WETLANDS SUPPORT TREES AND SHRUBS; SOME ARE FARMED. TECHNICALLY, A WETLAND MUST HAVE THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA.
- It must have standing water or saturated (water logged) soil for at least part of the growing season
- It must support mostly vegetation adapted to wet soil conditions
To view the different types of wetlands in Minnesota, click here
In almost all cases, draining, filling or altering a wetland will require a permit or some other authorization in Minnesota; applicants will often need to show efforts to avoid wetlands and may be required to replace drained or filled wetland area. This includes the digging of or maintenance of ponds and drainage ditches. The following agencies will typically be involved:
- Chisago County Environmental Services – Jeff Fertig, Wetland Specialist, 651-213-8378
- Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District – Craig Mell, 651-674-2333
- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources – Craig Wills, 763-689-7100, ext. 225
- The United States Army Corps of Engineers – Thomas J Hingsberger, 651-290-5367
The Enforcement Division of the Department of Natural Resources enforces most of Minnesota’s wetland regulations. People concerned about unauthorized wetland activities occurring in their area should contact Jeff Fertig at Chisago County at 651-213-8378 or Todd Langevin, DNR Enforcement at 651-277-9473.
PROJECTS AFFECTING WETLANDS
If you have a project that might affect a wetland you should contact the Chisago County Environmental Services Department to find out if the land you intend to alter is a wetland. Remember, an area can be a wetland even if it does not appear wet on the surface. If a permit is required you will need to fill out a Joint Application Form (Word or PDF) and mail copies of this form it to the following agencies:
- Chisago County Environmental Services, Government Center, 313 North Main Street, Room 243, Center City, MN 55012
- Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District, 38814 Third Avenue, North Branch, MN 55056
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 800 Oak Savanna Lane SW, Cambridge, MN 55008
- United States Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, Attn: CO-R, 190 Fifth Street East, St. Paul, MN 55101-1638
- The Joint Application Form is available online at Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources: http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/wetlands/wca/index.html You should hear back from the agencies after mailing the Joint Application Form within a month. If you do not, contact them before beginning work.
If your project is digging a pond, fill out the Pond Permit and submit with $200 to Chisago County Environmental Services, Government Center, 313 North Main Street, Room 243, Center City, MN 55012.
ADVICE FOR PROJECT APPLICANTS
- Begin early. Visit the Chisago County Environmental Services office and fill out the Joint Application Form.
- Before you purchase property for development, consider the existence of any wetlands and weight the environmental impact and financial cost of disturbing those areas against the project’s benefits.
- Be aware of state, federal and local regulations.
- If you proceed with a project, determine where the wetlands are and design your project accordingly.
- Thoroughly consider and document the alternatives you have considered to avoid wetland impacts.
- Consider the possible concerns of the community and the project’s neighbors and involve them early in the process.
- Provide truthful and complete descriptions of all relevant project components.
- To find a list of Wetland Delineators, visit the US Army Corp of Engineering website.