Maintaining and even expanding our inventory of high-functioning wetlands will go a long way to supporting and improving water quality in Minnesota. The tactics for preserving wetlands primarily consist of regulating the use and protection of existing wetlands, and restoring or creating new wetlands.
A number of federal and state laws regulate the draining, filling, and even intentional flooding of most of Minnesota’s wetlands. The aim is to avoid, minimize, or ultimately balance the wetlands lost to economic development through restoration efforts so that the total wetland acreage does not decrease.
In Sept. 2013, ground was broken on the Manston Slough project in Wilkin County, which will restore more than 1,000 acres of wetlands. The restored slough helps to recharge the Buffalo aquifer, improves water quality in the watershed, and provides excellent wildlife habitat. The wetlands will also help prevent flood damage by giving excess stormwater a place to go.
A federal rule meant to discourage wetland destruction is known as Swampbuster. Introduced into the Farm Bill in 1985, Swampbuster makes farmers ineligible for some federal farm program benefits if they drain wetlands for agriculture production. The legislation has succeeded in sharply reducing the amount of wetland converted for agricultural use.
Restorable Wetland Prioritization Tool
The MPCA and the University of Minnesota have developed the online Restorable Wetland Prioritization tool which helps those involved in wetlands restoration to predict likely locations of restorable wetlands, locate highly stressed areas most in need of improvement, and more.