Ag Wetland BankingA Win-Win Opportunity for MN Les Lemm Wetland Conservation Act Coordinator Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources January 18, 2012
Regulation of Wetlands on Ag Land in Minnesota • USDA Farm Bill wetland compliance requirements since December 1985. • State Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) passed in 1991. • Applies to all wetlands in MN • Includes exemptions (several relevant to ag)
Current Situation • Swampbusternational policy: certified wetland determination for all new drainage projects. • Increased interest in tiling = increased demand for wetland replacement. • WCA funding inadequate for comprehensive review of ag projects.
BWSR-NRCS MOU 12-23-09 • Communication, Information Sharing, and Coordination • Delineation of Wetland Boundaries • Wetland Violations • Wetland Mitigation
BWSR-NRCS MOUWetland Mitigation Specifics • Banking according to WCA standards provides acceptable mitigation for WCA andSwampbuster. • Goal: BWSR conservation easement and monitoring sufficient for NRCS. • Conduct joint review of replacement requirements; ID mutually acceptable standards.
BWSR-NRCS9-21-11 Contribution Agreement Agricultural Wetland Mitigation: • “BWSR, as the administrator of the State Wetland Bank in Minnesota, will assist NRCS to increase the opportunities available for mitigation of agricultural wetland impacts through banking or other means.”
BWSR-NRCS Contribution Agreement Mitigation Specifics • Develop MOU for jointly acceptable wetland replacement standards and the operation of a single-use wetland bank for agricultural wetland mitigation for WCA and Swampbuster. • Set up the ag banking system, including necessary revisions to forms, procedures, and requirements for to support interagency use. • Provide training and outreach.
Wetland Banking in MN • State wetland banking system authorized in 1993 by MN Stat. 103G.2242. • BWSR is responsible for the operation and management of the bank. • Landowners/organizations can determine the users of their credits, and BWSR can establish dedicated or single-use accounts.
Relevant WCA Statutes MN Stat.103G.2242, Subd. 1 • The WCA rules “may include provisions allowing monetary payment to the wetland banking program for alteration of wetlands on agricultural land…”
Relevant WCA Statutes 103G.222, Subd. 1(c): “If a wetland is located in a cultivated field, then replacement must be accomplished through restoration only without regard to [sequencing]…” 2006 2011
Relevant WCA Statutes 103G.222, Subdivision 1(a): “Wetlands must not be drained or filled, wholly or partially, unless replaced by restoring or creating wetland areas of at least equal public value…”
Relevant WCA Statutes 103B.3355: • (a) “The public values of wetlands must be determined based upon the functions of wetlands…” • (c) “[BWSR approved methodologies and criteria] must be used to determine the functions and resulting public values of wetlands in the state.”
Summary of Current Status • Statutory authority currently exists to establish an agricultural bank. • Current statute provides flexibility for impacts and replacement of degraded agricultural wetlands. • Agricultural interests want to establish an adequate supply of reasonably priced credits for ag projects that can work for both WCA and Swampbuster.
The Agricultural Wetland Bank • Restored wetlands in ag landscapes only. • Impacts limited to farmed, degraded wetlands (FWs). • Current WCA replacement standards. • Expected high interest in restored wetlands under expiring CRP contracts. • Current replacement wetland engineering and construction standards.
Benefits of the Ag Bank • Better interagency coordination and efficiency – works for both WCA and Swampbuster. • Replacement for WCA-exempt agwetlands. • Adequate credit supply and regulatory flexibility for eligible users. • Better targeting of sites. • Expanded market for ag bankers.
What’s Next? • More meetings with ag groups. • General guidance/fact sheets on ag banking. • Guidance on using MNRAM to evaluate wetlands restored under CRP for ag banking. • Training for LGUs, SWCDs, and NRCS staff. • Additional guidance, updates to forms, banking software upgrade, etc.
For More Information Contact your BWSR Sr. Wetland Specialist See the BWSR website: www.bwsr.state.mn.us