Wetland Conservation Act

In 1991, reacting to public concern about Minnesota’s disappearing wetlands, the Wetland Conservation Act was enacted. It was one of the most sweeping wetlands protection laws in the country. The Wetland Conservation Act requires anyone proposing to drain, fill, or excavate a wetland to:

  • try first to avoid disturbing the wetland
  • second, try to minimize any impact on the wetland
  • finally, replace any lost wetland acres, functions, and values
Certain wetland activities are exempt from the act, allowing projects with minimal impact or projects located on land where certain pre-established land uses are present to proceed without regulation.

Local government units—cities, counties, watershed management organizations, soil and water conservation districts, and townships—implement the act locally. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources administers the act statewide, and the Department of Natural Resources enforces it.