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Wetland Delineation and Mitigation

Wetland Delineation and Mitigation

Wetlands are protected from draining and filling, but regulations protecting them are complex and include federal protections via the 1977 Federal Clean Water Act and Swamp Buster ; and state regulations such as Minnesota's 1991 Wetland Conservation Act, DNR Public Waters protection, and ditch laws.

Delineation is the science of identifying the legal boundary of a wetland. Typically, delineations are completed in an effort to identify the locations and boundaries of wetlands on a parcel so they can be avoided. In cases when wetlands cannot be avoided and must be impacted, a Federal/State Permit is first required. Prior to obtaining a permit, the wetland acreage impacted must be replaced via an acceptable mitigation plan.


The business of wetland delineation and mitigation requires the highest level of communication and coordination with the various regulatory agencies. We often refer to wetland delineation as a “gray science”, which means a delineated wetland boundary can vary slightly because of field interpretations between individual delineators. It is critical to closely coordinate delineation work with the Local Government Unit to ensure all work is completed as expected. As for mitigation, these permits are difficult to obtain and close communication with the Federal, State, and County regulators is required throughout the process to ensure that all permit efforts are not in vain.