Ag only wetland mitigation bank meeting is Sept. 29

ST. PAUL - Minnesota farmers will soon have the opportunity to purchase and deposit wetland credits into an ag only wetland mitigation bank.

ST. PAUL - Minnesota farmers will soon have the opportunity to purchase and deposit wetland credits into an ag only wetland mitigation bank.

Minnesota has had a wetland bank for nearly 20 years, said John Jaschke, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. Typically, government units have purchased credits from the bank when a road project disrupts or destroys wetlands.

The new ag wetland mitigation bank is a great opportunity for Minnesota producers, said Don Baloun, Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist.

Farmers can enroll wetlands into the bank or purchase credits if they want to do a project that will impact a wetland. The credits deposited would only be available to agricultural landowners for replacing farmed or degraded wetlands under the jurisdiction of the federal farm bill or the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act.

As a result of the 1985 farm bill and its swampbuster provision and the state Wetland Conservation Act, producers need to protect and not allow the conversion of any remaining wetland in Minnesota.


The wetland credits will be available generally in the farmed areas of western and southern Minnesota.

Minnesota once had 20 million acres of wetlands, Jaschke said, and has lost 10 million acres. The vast majority of those acres were in the western and southern parts of the state. Some counties have lost 90 percent of their wetlands or more.

Those wetlands aren't coming back, but the goal of the mitigation bank is to allow productive agriculture land to be used in the most productive matter, while having wetlands exist in the best possible places.

Wetlands are Mother Nature's kidney, Baloun said, and they provide enormous water quality benefits.

Producers need to protect the wetlands remaining in Minnesota, but at the same time the NRCS and BWSR recognize the enormous incentive farmers have to maintain production and the need for farmers to be more efficient with production.

In order to be enrolled in the mitigation bank, wetlands must be developed without government funds. However, Conservation Reserve Program land that is coming out of the program may be eligible for enrollment in the mitigation bank with only a few modifications.

Baloun said he thinks there will be a lot of interest both in establishing wetlands in in purchasing credits. It's an opportunity for producers to remove a troublesome wetland while helping to improve a wetland in a better location for wildlife, water quality and agriculture.

A meeting on the new ag wetland mitigation bank is tentatively set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Holiday Inn in Alexandria.

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