What You Should Know
“Wetland” means land where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water; an area can be a wetland even if it does not appear wet on the surface. Per the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA), wetlands must have 3 qualities:
- Hydric (wet) soil types
- Be inundated or saturated by surface water or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of hydrophobic vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions
- Under normal circumstances, support a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation.
There are many types of wetlands and Benton County can help you decipher which kind you may have on your property. Contacting the county before a proposed project or property purchase will help ensure your property is incompliance.
Common Wetland Projects
It can be very difficult to identify wetlands and wetland regulations can be quite complex. Some examples of projects that could potentially affect wetlands include:
- Filling a low area of a residential lot for a building, driveway, or lawn.
- Tiling wet areas of cultivated fields.
- Digging a pond in a low area.
- Cleaning out an old ditch or improving an existing ditch.
- Adding fill for a crossing of a stream or wet swale.
- Adding fill to create a recreational path through a low or wet area
If there is the potential for your project to impact a wetland it is important to contact Benton County Planning and Zoning. Although the WCA allows for exemptions for certain activities, applying for a permit through Benton County will:
- Determine if the land you intend to alter is a wetland.
- Determine if the proposed activity has impacts to a wetland area and if it falls under an exemption. If not, the alternative solutions.
- Prevent WCA violations from occurring.
Cooperation is a key component of successful conservation. Local, state, and federal wetland regulatory agencies work in partnership with landowners to help them achieve the best possible results on their private land.
If you decide to move ahead with your project before obtaining the proper permits, a Conservation Officer or other peace officer may issue a “cease and desist” order. This will prevent any further work on the project in question until a determination can be made on whether a violation has occurred or not.
If it is determined that a violation has occurred, you will be required to restore the wetland back to the pre-altered condition. Violation of a cease-and-desist order or Restoration order is a misdemeanor and could result in criminal prosecution. It is the responsibility of the landowner and contractor hired by the landowner to be sure that the work being done is allowed under the WCA and that all necessary permits have been obtained. Contacting Benton County is the easiest way to ensure you have all the necessary WCA permits
Wetland applications made to Benton County under the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act are reviewed by a staff member and/ or the technical evaluation panel. The Technical Evaluation Panel (TEP) is a statutorily designated committee of wetland professionals from various state and local agencies. The individual members comment on proposed wetland projects resulting in a recommendation to Benton County. Benton County has designated, by resolution, the Planning & Zoning Department as the party responsible for Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act decisions. An application (the Joint Application Form) can be mailed, emailed, or dropped off at the office. Applications can be found on the Board of Water and Soil Resources website.