What are Wetlands


What are they?  A confusing aspect of wetlands is that they vary in appearance and degrees of wetness. Wetland plant communities can include grass or sedge meadows resembling hayfields; willow or alder shrubs; swamps of bogs with ash, tamarack, cedar, or cottonwood trees; or easily recognizable cattails and bulrush.


In Minnesota, an estimated 11 million acres of wetlands have been drained or filled in the last 100 years, leaving 10 million acres.  Pine County has a great deal of wetland area.  Many acres of wetland drain into Cross Lake. Keeping them in a wild state is important! Drainage from these wetlands is monitored frequently by the Association during the summer for nutrients and bacteria.  Problems have been acted on quickly.


Wetlands are valued because they perform a number of important functions:  habitat for numerous species of animals and plants, water storage, and water quality functions such as uptake of excess nutrients and filtering of sediments. 


Minnesota public policy led to the establishment of the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act in 1992.  The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) oversees the law that is administered by local government units. The county Soil and Water Conservation District provides local technical assistance based on state criteria.  Legal enforcement of WCA law is by DNR conservation officers.  The law applies to filling, draining, and excavation of wetlands.

Contacts:  www.bwsr.state.mn.us   or Pine County SWCD