MADISON -- With spring around the corner, farmers may be looking ahead to a variety of maintenance projects such as constructing new ditches or installing drain tile.
Approximately one-third of Wisconsin farms depend on constructed drains to remove excess water from the fields. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources encourages farmers to check wetland requirements before proceeding with these projects, which may affect wetlands and require permits to proceed.
"DNR recognizes the importance of agriculture in Wisconsin and we understand many farmers are looking to improve or expand the uses of their land," said David Hon, a DNR water regulation and zoning specialist. "We want to encourage farmers to work with DNR staff and use our convenient online resources to learn more before implementing costly capital improvements that may affect wetlands."
In the past five years, DNR has seen a large increase in the number of proposals for projects related to ditching and drain tiling. Farmers considering these and other major projects should contact DNR ahead of time to learn if a permit is needed.
Wetlands are a valuable natural resource and provide a variety of benefits including flood protection; storm water storage; water quality protection; habitat for fish, aquatic life and wildlife; groundwater processes; and shoreline protection. For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "wetland disturbance" or search the staff directory for your local water regulation and zoning specialist.