We assist local governments in their efforts to adopt local critical areas wetland regulations that protect wetlands and their functions based on best available science.
Regulatory exemptions and protections for farmed wetlands
In some cases, wetlands have long been used for agricultural production. Ongoing agriculture in these areas is exempt under state and federal wetland protection statutes. We recognize that these wetland areas may continue to be farmed under state wetland protection statutes.
Even though they are in production, farmed wetlands can continue to provide important wetland functions such as waterfowl migration or overwintering areas. Use of best management practices and conservation practices can help enhance these functions while complementing ongoing farming operations.
Wetlands in agricultural areas are protected under state and federal regulations when:
- A farmed wetland is proposed to be converted to non-agricultural uses.
- There is a conversion of existing non-farmed wetland in order to expand agricultural operations or to convert it to other uses.
- There is construction of new agricultural drainage facilities on farmed wetlands.
- There is expansion and deepening of drainage ditches. This requirement would not include the shallow (18-24 inches deep) drainage ditches constructed to drain water from the farmed wetlands in the spring.
While the evaluation of wetland protection is at the watershed scale under the Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP), restoring and enhancing wetlands in one part of a watershed does not compensate for new wetland impacts in other areas of the watershed.
Protection and enhancement activities under VSP are intended to reduce impacts and enhance critical areas in agricultural areas through voluntary measures, not to offset new impacts.