Anoka County is rich in wetlands that provide countless benefits to the county's ecological and water resources. Wetlands capture and filter floodwater and runoff, provide habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species, and help recharge the groundwater supply. Anoka County has lost approximately half of its original wetlands since European settlement. Historically wetlands have been drained and filled to create more useable land for agriculture and rural development. Many regulations exist to protect wetlands today, but a history of impacts combined with present-day challenges such as invasive vegetation, increasing demands for housing and suburban development, and altered hydrology threaten what remains.
For these reasons, the Anoka Conservation District (ACD) has increased efforts to identify wetland protection and restoration opportunities. An inventory of restorable wetlands was recently completed for two priority watersheds in the county including the Ford Brook watershed and the Rum River direct drainage watershed. Altogether, approximately 70 potential wetland restoration sites were identified across both private and public lands. In the coming months, ACD will conduct outreach and explore these possible opportunities in more depth, with the goal of restoring hydrology and native vegetation at one or more sites in 2024.
ACD has enhanced wetland habitat via vegetation management for several years, but hydrologic restorations are a relatively new endeavor which require careful planning, holistic approaches, and multi-agency collaboration. In 2022, five acres' worth of wetlands on public land were successfully restored by plugging drainage ditches which restored previous hydrology conditions and managed current vegetation such as the invasive reed canary grass to improve habitat with a diversity of native species.
For more information contact Brenna Keith,