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Wetland Conservation Act

Don’t forget…the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) applies to everyone!  Before starting ANY project, check in the Chippewa SWCD office to see if your proposed project may impact a wetland.

What is a Wetland?

When most people think of wetlands, they think of swampy, marshy areas complete with ducks and cattails.  While those areas are indeed wetlands, many other wetlands look quite different and may even be completely dry for the majority of the year.  Some wetlands support trees and shrubs and some may even be farmed.  All wetlands are divided into types 1-8 depending upon their characteristics, primarily the amount and frequency of water retention and the typical vegetation.

To be classified as a wetland, an areas must meet three criteria:  1) it must have mostly hydric soils;  2) it must be generally inundated or saturated above or below the surface; and finally 3) it must support a prevalence of vegetation adapted to wet soil conditions.

Why are wetlands important?

Far from useless, wetlands provide many important benefits which have only become apparent as wetland numbers have dwindled.

These benefits can include:

  • Storage area for excess water during times of flooding
  • A filter to trap sediment and nutrients before they enter lakes, rivers, and streams
  • Fish and wildlife habitat
  • Public recreation
  • Commercial uses

Wetlands Are Protected By The Wetland Conservation Act (WCA)

The Wetland Conservation Act promotes a no-net-loss of wetlands and protects the benefits wetlands provide.  The Act moves towards its no-net-loss goal by requiring persons proposing to drain or fill a wetland to:

  • First, try to avoid disturbing the wetland
  • Second, try to minimize any impact to the wetland
  • And finally, to replace any lost wetland functions & values