Wetlands Regulations and Permits

Wetlands provide important benefits. Because of this, they are protected by federal, state and local regulations.


  • Clean Water Act Section 404 regulates impacts to wetlands that are under federal jurisdiction. In Minnesota, it is administered by the St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency certifies that permits issued meet state water quality requirements.
  • Wetland Conservation Compliance Provisions of the Federal Farm Bill imposes wetland protection requirements on landowners that receive certain federal farm program benefits. Popularly known as "Swampbuster," it is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Services Agency.


  • Public Waters Permit Program administered by the DNR, regulates activities in public waters, which includes most lakes, rivers, streams and certain types of wetlands.
  • Wetland Conservation Act regulates wetlands in Minnesota that are not public waters. This program is administered by local governments with oversight by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, except for calcareous fens and wetlands affected by mining projects requiring a permit to mine, which are regulated by the DNR.
  • State Shoreland Standards regulates activities within shoreland zones, rather than within the wetland itself. These standards only apply where they have been adopted by local governments.
  • Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources provide additional guidance on wetland regulation in Minnesota.


  • Some local governments and watershed districts have adopted their own wetland and wetland buffer ordinances. Check with your city, county or watershed district for information.
  • County soil and water conservation districts can help with specific wetland permitting questions.

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