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Beltrami County Environmental Services

Wetland Programs

The Environmental Services Department (ESD) administers the state’s Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) program.  The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) has overall statewide administrative responsibility for the law; the ESD is responsible for making decisions on wetland applications. 

If you think you may be doing any activities – filling, draining, or excavating - inside or nearby an area that could be wetland, call and we’ll schedule a time to come out before you begin work. A Wetland Application will also need to be completed.

IMPORTANT: Application fees are TRIPLED for non-exempt activities in regulated wetlands and restoration may be required at the owner’s expense.  

It can be very difficult to properly identify wetlands.  Many people think of wetlands as swampy, marshy areas with open water, cattails, and lily pads.  Wetlands can take on many forms including grassy meadows, forested wetlands covered in trees and shrubs, and wet areas of cultivated farm fields.  Many wetlands are actually dry for most of the year with no standing water.   

A few examples of projects that may require a WCA Permit:

  • Filling a low area of a residential lot for a building or lawn
  • Tilling wet areas of cultivated fields
  • Digging a pond in a low area
  • Cleaning out an old ditch or improving an existing ditch
  • Adding fill for a crossing of a stream or wet swale
  • Constructing a road in a low area to access high ground

  • WCA regulates all of the state’s wetlands except MNDNR Public Waters, which are regulated separately by the State of Minnesota.
  • If you are enrolled in the federal Farm Bill Program you should contact the ESD along with your local USDA Office.
  • Wetland protection laws can regulate draining, filling, or excavating in or adjacent to wetlands when these activities directly or indirectly impact them.
  • There are exemptions found in WCA for impacts from certain activities that do not require replacement.

Additional Resources

MN Board of Water & Soil Resources - More information about WCA and other reference materials

Sequencing - Avoid, Minimize, and Replace (St. Louis County video)

Wetland Identification (St. Louis County video)

DNR Public Waters Permit Program

Clean Water Act Section 404

Wetland Delineation Reference Materials

Online Mapping These maps are for general information ONLY and DO NOT accurately represent the type and location of all wetland resources in the county!  Please contact this office before doing any work that may be done in, or near, a wetland.

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