Defining Wetlands

Wetlands come in different types. Some wetlands are constructed, some are natural, some have native plants and some are dominated by invasive species.

While the area may not be very wet, yet are still wetlands. In Anoka County, areas where water is within 12 inches of the surface for 8 days or more of the growing season may meet the hydrological criteria for legally-defined wetlands; other standards may also need to be met for jurisdictional wetlands.

Wetland Regulations

If the area is a wetland mitigation site, it has been specially designed to replace the benefits of a wetland lost to development. Therefore, no mowing is allowed, nor filling draining, or excavating. The native vegetation provides a particular habitat, and helps with water quality and quantity management. Some mitigation areas have signs marking the boundaries, some do not. Call to find out for sure.

Different wetlands have different regulations. A Water Resource Professional can look up the property to determine if, or what type of, a wetland is located there. Without a permit, no wetland area may be filled, excavated or drained.

Increasing Water Quality

Wetlands and buffer strips play an important role in water quality and quantity. Replacing them with even a little bit of turf can reduce their capacity for water quality. When many people are replacing small amounts of wetland or buffer strips with turf, those small amounts can add up to a large loss of water quality benefits from a ‘bird's eye' point of view.

Buffer Strips

Buffer strips around stormwater ponds or along creeks or drainage ditches use long-rooted plants, usually native plants, since they generally have longer roots that help increase water quality. This happens because their longer roots can provide:

  • More filtering of pollutants out of the water
  • More holding of soil in place, thereby reducing erosion - a source of pollution
  • More infiltration of precipitation into the soil, therefore reducing flood potential

Help improve water quality for you and our children. Remember that though native plants may seem unkept by not providing a golf-course style lawn, they may be very important in their water quality/quantity use and ecological function. In fact, some showy native flowers and grasses are popular as garden plants.