START WETLAND APPROVAL PROCESSES EARLY!
If a wetland exists, or if you’re unsure if one exists on the property of a proposed project, costly hang-ups and delays due to unforeseen wetland regulations and permitting processes can be avoided by starting the approval process early, even if no wetland impacts are proposed. It is in the best interest of everyone involved to contact any applicable local, state, or federal units of government as soon as possible to get an idea of required permitting processes. This will result in a more streamlined and predictable project timeline. Some projects require public notice (e.g., minimum 15 business day comment period for Wetland Conservation Act [WCA] applications, 14 day comment period for Minnehaha Creek Watershed District [MCWD] permit applications), which can result in an unhappy client if they had anticipated things to get started right away.
Any activity that requires a permit under the MCWD Wetland Protection Rule, Stormwater Management Rule, and Waterbody Crossings and Structures Rule
MCWD WETLAND REGULATIONS
The MCWD is responsible for regulating impacts to wetlands within the watershed through administration and enforcement of the MCWD Wetland Protection Rule and the MN Wetland Conservation Act. In cities where MCWD is the local government unit (LGU) for the Wetland Conservation Act, most of the rules of the WCA are incorporated as part of the Wetland Protection Rule to streamline the regulatory process. The Wetland Protection Rule also requires that wetland buffer be provided in the following scenarios:
Wetland buffers are required on residential property in the following scenarios:·
· A single family residential building constructed on undeveloped property zoned for residential use
· Tear down/re-build projects that increase hardcover
For any wetland(s) that will be impacted or require a buffer, a complete delineation report approved by the WCA LGU is required to be submitted as part of the permit application under the MCWD Wetland Protection Rule. Approvals under WCA are usually valid for three years. Past delineations submitted for approval cannot be older than three years.
In addition to the approved delineation report, a site plan must be submitted that shows the following:
Property lines and corners and delineation of lands under ownership of the applicant;
Existing and proposed elevation contours, including the existing runout elevation and flow capacity of the wetland outlet;
Boundaries of all wetlands on the property;
Boundaries of all existing or proposed buffers;
Proposed locations of buffer signage; and
Area of the wetland portion to be filled, drained, or excavated.
For a complete list of required exhibits for MCWD permit applications, see the MCWD Wetland Protection Rule text.
WETLAND BOUNDARY APPROVAL PROCESS UNDER WCA
If a wetland delineation is required, the delineation must be performed during the growing season in order to get an accurate depiction of wetland characteristics & indicators. Delineation reports submitted to MCWD for approval under WCA will only be accepted between May 1 and October 15 to allow time for field review during the growing season. If a report is submitted outside of this timeframe, it may be deemed incomplete and the applicant could be recommended to submit a new application during the next growing season (the delineation reports will be kept on file, so only a new application form will need to be submitted.) Click here for a link to the application form on the BWSR website.
Applicants will be expected to submit additional paper copies of the delineation report upon request for required noticing. The LGU is required to distribute copies of the complete application and a notice of application to the following:
· Members of the Technical Evaluation Panel (TEP), which includes:
o County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD)
o Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR)
o Department of Natural Resources (DNR)*
*Only for projects affecting or relating to public waters, public waters wetlands, or wetlands within the shoreland protection zone)
· The commissioner of natural resources
· Individual members of the public who request a copy
WHO IS THE WCA LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT?
Within the Minnehaha Creek watershed, MCWD acts as the LGU for the Wetland Conservation Act for the cities listed in the table below. For the rest of the areas within MCWD, the City is the LGU.
*LGU for entire city, not just within MCWD
CITIES WHERE MCWD IS WCA LGU (WITHIN MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED)
St. Louis Park
AVOID BUFFER AREAS DURING CONSTRUCTION
If a buffer is required, it is recommended to avoid disturbing the buffer area during construction. This minimizes the risk of impacts to the wetland due to erosion, and also reduces costs relating to planting, establishing, and monitoring of the buffer after the project is completed. If the buffer will be disturbed during construction, the MCWD Wetland Protection Rule requires a Wetland Buffer Planting Plan and Wetland Buffer Maintenance Plan, as well as wetland buffer monitoring & annual reporting for five years.
WETLAND REPLACEMENT MONITORING & ANNUAL REPORTING
For replacement plans approved under WCA, maintenance, monitoring & reporting is required for five years to document progress in establishing replacement wetlands and associated buffers. The reports need to be submitted to the LGU no later than December 31 each year. Below is a list of information that must, at a minimum, be included in the monitoring report:
(1) a project location map with legal description;
(2) a description of replacement wetland goals and performance standards in
terms of size, replacement credit amount, wetland types, hydrology, and wetland functions and a comparison of the current replacement wetland to these goals and standards;
(3) a description of activities completed during the past year;
(4) a description of activities planned for the upcoming year;
(5) hydrology measurements during the growing season, including water level elevations at fixed, repeatable locations representative of the replacement wetland types or areal coverage measurements of inundation for replacement wetlands with deeper hydrologic regimes;
(6) a map of plant communities within the boundaries of the replacement site, including estimates of square footage or acreage of each and identification of areas of invasive or non-native vegetation;
(7) color photographs of all replacement areas taken during the growing season from fixed, repeatable reference locations that are representative of each plant community type;
(8) a delineation and survey of the replacement wetland areas, if applicable, for the final monitoring season; and
(9) other information specified in the approved monitoring plan or subsequently requested by the local government unit.
If you have questions or would like additional information on wetland regulations, please contact Catherine Bach at 952-641-4504 or firstname.lastname@example.org.