Wetlands are ecologically important to our environment and as such have become an important issue in northeastern Minnesota, especially with the increase in development. For that reason, we have two Wetland Delineators on our staff. The Federal Clean Water Act and the State of Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act, enforced through local governments, control wetland impacts. Local officials require that wetlands be identified and mapped prior to approval of divisions of land or if wetlands are to be altered through activities such as road building.
The identification of wetlands can be difficult as certain types of wetlands can be deceiving. To qualify as wetland an area has to meet 3 criteria: it has to have hydrology (the presence of water), hydrophytic (water tolerant) vegetation and hydric soils (saturated soils have certain characteristics), so often what doesn't appear as wetland actually is. Test plots must be done and soil samples taken to confirm the presence of wetland. The wetland must then be mapped so it can be shown accurately on a survey drawing.
If any wetland is going to be dredged or filled there is an extensive permitting process which may include the purchase of wetland credits, i.e. the purchase of wetland created elsewhere in the state to replace what is being impacted. A minimum amount of wetland may be filled without going through the permit process, but you should be sure before this is done. Penalties can be severe if the process isn't followed.
Our wetland delineation staff is very experienced in this process.