Wetland FAQs

  • What is a wetland? +

    Answer:Generally speaking, wetlands are areas in the landscape where water is normally at or within 12 inches of the surface for at least 14 consecutive days during the growing season. This means tat wetlands are not wet all the time.  They are, however, wet long enough to establish wetland vegetation and soil characteristics.  For regulatory purposes, wetland professionals (a.k.a. "wetland delineators") use the 1987 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual and Regional Supplements to delineate (i.e., identify) wetland boundaries. 

    Wetland Types
    While there are multiple ways to describe wetlands, WCA classifies eight different wetland types. Most people recognize wetlands with cattails and lily pads, but some wetland types are not as obvious, including seasonal wetlands and forested wetlands. Please see: Wetland plants and plant communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin - Technical Reports
    Other Wetland Classification Systems Include:
    • Eggers and Reed
    • Cowardin

    Wetland Benefits
    Wetlands offer many benefits, including:

    • Water quality, including filtering pollutants out of surface water and groundwater, using nutrients that would otherwise pollute public waters, trapping sediments, protecting shoreline, and recharging groundwater supplies;
    • Floodwater and storm water retention, including reducing the potential for flooding in the watershed;
    • Public recreation and education, including hunting and fishing areas, wildlife viewing areas, and nature areas;
    • Commercial benefits, including wild rice and cranberry growing areas and aquaculture areas;
    • Fish and wildlife benefits; and
    • Low-flow augmentation during times of drought.

  • How do I know if I have wetland on my property? +

    Answer: Experts, such as private consultants, delineate wetlands by applying methods developed by the Army Corps of Engineers, which include an assessment of soils, hydrology, and vegetation. Official wetland boundaries must be approved by your Local Government Unit and the Army Corp of Engineers. If you live in a newer neighborhood, contact your city to determine is wetlands have already been officially delineated as part of your subdivision. Examples of wetland types.

  • May I fill the low area in my yard? +

    Answer: If the “low area” meets the scientific criteria for a wetland, then you likely need multiple regulatory approvals prior to starting the activity. Filling a wetland area without prior approval can lead to enforcement procedures that require landowners to restore the wetland to its pre-altered condition.

  • Do I need a permit to dig out my wetland? +

    Answer: Probably. The Wetland Conservation Act regulates excavation in Type 3, 4 or 5 wetlands and in all wetlands if it results in filling, draining, or conversion to non-wetland. Other jurisdictions including cities, watershed districts, and the U.S. Corps of Engineers also regulate wetland excavation.


  • My wetland went dry this summer. May I dig my wetland deeper to get the water back? +

    Answer: The water levels in Anoka County wetlands are usually a reflection of ground water, which varies seasonally. Deeper excavation will not get water back into the wetland. Only precipitation will recharge the groundwater and increase water levels in your wetland. Excavation in certain wetland types is regulated


  • May I remove the cattails that have taken into my pond? +

    Answer: It depends on the regulatory authority and the method of vegetative management. Removal of aquatic vegetation, including cattails, within DNR public waters requires an aquatic plant management permit for the DNR. For WCA regulated wetlands, contact your WCA Local Government Unit.

  • May I make trails in my wetlands? +

    Answer: Grubbing woody vegetation, grading, and placing material in a wetland (e.g., gravel, sand, woodchips, etc.) are all regulated by WCA. For wetlands that are not DNR public waters, cutting or mowing wetland vegetation may be allowed so long as it does not impact the quality of the wetland or change the structure of the wetland.

  • What is a wetland bank? +

    Answer: Wetland banks are established when landowners voluntarily restore wetlands and deposit the wetland credit in a state wetland bank. Wetland credits are sold to landowners that are required to mitigate for wetland impacts that have been approved by wetland regulatory agencies. While exact price is a negotiation between the buyer and the seller, metro-area credits can be worth a lot of money. If you are interested in establishing a wetland bank in Anoka County, please contact the Anoka Conservation District. More information on wetland banking.


  • Who is qualified to review my property for wetlands? +

    Answer: Wetland delineations are typically conducted by private consultants that are hired by the landowner. For small projects that need a local building permit, the Anoka Conservation District, may be able to conduct a preliminary review of your property to identify if a wetland delineation is needed.

    Wetland Review Request Form