Wetlands have been a major issue throughout Minnesota's history. The debate over the value of wetlands, and their resulting drainage, has been the paramount water issue since Minnesota gained statehood in 1858. Early water management consisted mainly of manipulating surface waters-mostly wetlands and small lake areas-attempting to create more land that would be suitable for farming.

Increased Settlement

Surface water was viewed as a "common enemy" and wide scale drainage was the order of the day early in the 20th century. Wetlands were considered "undesirable wastelands."

As settlement increased, especially along the state's rivers, floods and property damage often occurred and wetlands in floodplain areas came to be valued as storage basins.

Wetland Fact Sheet

Learn more about the wetlands with a fact sheet (PDF).

Wetland Conservation Act

The Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) was first passed in 1991 to provide for the mitigation of drained and filled wetlands. The WCA legislation authorized the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) to adopt rules regarding wetlands. Since the adoption of WCA, the Sherburne County Zoning Office has been the Local Government Unit (LGU) for this area. The LGU is responsible for the administration of WCA rules.

WCA specifies 10 categories of exempt drain and fill activities. If an activity is not exempt, impacted wetlands must be replaced under a replacement plan that is approved by Sherburne County. WCA also allows wetland losses from drain or fill activities to be replaced by wetlands previously restored or created and deposited into the state wetland bank.

More Information

If you are interested in draining, filling, or creating a wetland, please contact our office for more information.