The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) has developed recommendations at the direction of Governor Mark Dayton through Executive Order 12-04 Supporting and Strengthening Implementation of the State's Wetlands Policy (Appendix A). The Executive Order 12-04 (Order) follows legislative debate in 2012 on wetlands policy which focused primarily on Minnesota's Wetland Conservation Act (WCA). Several bills were independently introduced to address specific stakeholder concerns. These bills and the subsequent debate did not reflect a careful evaluation of WCA or wetlands policy as a whole. While several modest changes to WCA were adopted, the Governor called for recommendations to be developed based on a more systematic evaluation of wetlands policy. The Order reaffirms the public values of wetlands, the public interest in achieving a no net loss of wetlands as well as the benefits of continued restoration of wetlands in Minnesota. The Governor directed BWSR, in cooperation with the Pollution Control Agency and the Departments of Natural Resources, Transportation and Agriculture, to undertake the following steps regarding how to maintain No Net Loss of Wetlands as a State goal under the Wetland Conservation Act and to further advance the long-term protection and enhancement of Minnesota's wetland resources: 1. Assess potential changes to current policies that will improve wetland conservation in Minnesota in a manner that maintains and restores the integrity of Minnesota's wetlands, while recognizing that the ecology, distribution and type of wetland resources vary statewide. 2. Evaluate and develop recommendations to improve current wetland protection, restoration, and mitigation provisions regarding: a. de minimis exemption allowances and flexibility options allowable with Board-approved Comprehensive Wetland Management Plans according to Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.2243; b. alignment of pre-settlement wetland zones on watershed boundaries; c. consistent review, approval and implementation for projects subject to wetland replacement requirements; d. the adequacy of funding mechanisms to cover costs of inspections, monitoring and oversight of wetland bank sites; and e. the costs and benefits of wetland mitigation targeted to specific watersheds. 3. Develop recommendations to provide for the continued restoration of drained wetlands using various funding sources to achieve the multiple benefits that wetlands provide for strategic conservation purposes. 4. Identify opportunities to improve coordination of wetland regulatory efforts between state and federal agencies by improving the processes for landowners, permit applications, local governments, and regulators so that greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness are realized. The Order further required these steps to be completed by December 15, 2012. This report provides recommendations that should contribute to better wetlands policy. The recommendations in each section are not listed in priority order. Improved wetlands policy can be measured by: 1. An increase in the quantity, quality and biological diversity of Minnesota's wetlands, 2. Improved timeliness and clarity of permitting processes for Minnesota's regulated landowners, and 3. Improved efficiency and reduced costs for applicants, agencies and local governments involved in wetlands management.
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Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Minnesota Water Research Digital Library