Wetland Restoration Funding Available!

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Identifying Wetland Restoration Opportunities in Anoka County

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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Candidate wetland restoration sites (shown in red) for the Ford Brook watershed in Northwestern Anoka County.
A wetland restoration completed at Cedar Creek Conservation area in 2022 included reed canary grass removal (above) to improve the wetlands’ native vegetation communities.
The Cedar Creek wetland restoration also included ditch plugs (above) to improve the wetlands’ water-holding capacity.
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Filling Ditches and Scraping Weeds

Anoka Conservation District, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the City of Andover are working together to restore natural hydrology and establish native vegetation at Pine Hills North Park in Andover. 

A private ditch was plugged and weeds in the basin were scraped and used to fill in the ditch, preventing drainage of water and recreating the conditions of a wetland. The scraped area will be seeded with a mesic prairie seed mix in the fall.

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What can I do with my wetland?

Whether you call it a swamp, marsh, or low area, it is most likely a wetland and it is most likely regulated by someone.

ExcavatingAnoka County residents frequently inquire how to improve their land for waterfowl or other wildlife. A common practice in Anoka County is pond excavations in seasonally saturated areas, or cattail-choked wetlands to provide an open water habitat. The Wetland Conservation Act regulates excavations in the permanently and semi-permanently flooded areas of type 3, 4, or 5 wetlands and also regulates the placement of spoil and the depth of the excavation in all types of wetlands. Other jurisdictions including the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources may have regulatory authority on wetland excavation projects.

DrainingThere is potential for pond excavations to drain adjacent wetland areas. Typically, in Anoka County, if the hydrology is predominantly groundwater driven, a pond excavation can be designed that will not drain adjacent wetlands. However, there is an increased likelihood that a pond excavation will drain adjacent wetlands when wetlands hydrology is primarily surface water, or when the excavation is connected to a drainage ditch. This is an issue that is best addressed by your local government or the Anoka Conservation District during review of a specific project.

Filling: Filling of wetlands must be avoided during pond excavations. The spoil from the excavation must be placed in an upland area. A qualified wetland professional may be needed to ensure that the destination of the spoil is upland.

Proper erosion control practices must be incorporated as well. If you have questions, contact the Anoka Conservation District for assistance. Contact us.

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