Wetland compensatory mitigation
Applicants seeking individual wetland permits for projects that can potentially impact wetlands are required under 2011 WI Act 118 to mitigate for wetland impacts. Compensatory mitigation involves restoring, enhancing, creating or preserving wetlands to “compensate” for wetland loss. Applicants can buy credits from a pre-approved mitigation bank or complete mitigation projects themselves.
Basic concepts of the wetland mitigation law and rules
- Applicants should work with DNR staff early to determine requirements and likelihood for compliance.
- Compensatory mitigation involves wetland restoration to “compensate” for permitted unavoidable wetland losses. Some “enhancement” of existing degraded wetlands may also be acceptable. Creation of wetlands from historically upland areas may be acceptable, but only if the applicant can show there is a high probability for success. Preservation is also allowed as mitigation but only under very limited circumstances.
- Compensatory mitigation is required for all unavoidable wetland losses approved under Individual Permits (IPs). Permittees may satisfy this requirement by buying mitigation bank credits from a state-approved wetland mitigation bank or by developing their own wetland mitigation site, called “permittee-responsible” mitigation. A third option now under development will eventually allow applicants to buy credits from a DNR-sponsored In-Lieu-Fee Program.
- Applicants must always show they have made reasonable attempts to avoid and minimize wetland impacts before considering what mitigation options are available. Applicants should work with the DNR Water Management Specialist to work through the avoid-and-minimize process and then work with the wetland mitigation coordinators to determine how best to mitigate.
- When compensatory mitigation is part of an application, the applicant will need to follow detailed rules, requirements and a review process for the mitigation project.
Guidelines and program reporting
Public comment opportunity
During the first year of implementation the DNR and Army Corps of Engineers will be accepting comments on the content of the Guidelines. These comments will be evaluated during the development of Version 2.
- Comments are now being accepted through August 1, 2014 and can be sent to:
- Pam Schense
Wetland Mitigation Coordinator
WI Dept of Natural Resources
101 S. Webster St – WT/3
Madison, WI 53707-7921
Permit applicants, mitigation bank sponsors and agency personnel and others can use the Guidelines Version 1 during the identification, planning and construction of wetland compensatory mitigation sites. It has been developed in accordance with state and federal law and is intended to meet or exceed state and federal mitigation requirements.
- 2013 Guidelines for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation in Wisconsin
- MOA with federal agencies concerning the adoption of mitigation guidelines in Wisconsin, May 2002
- Current reporting information
Wetland permit and mitigation information for applicants
- Wetlands permit information
- Applicant information
- Applicant process sheet
- Frequently asked questions
- Conservation easement information
Corps & staff contacts
Wetland permits and mitigation: state statutes and administrative codes
- 2011 Wisconsin Act 118
- WI State Statute 281.36 – Permits for discharges into wetlands; mitigation
- NR 350: Wetland compensatory mitigation
Federal wetland legislation
- § 404 Clean Water Act
- Overview of § 404 Clean Water Act
- 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 230
- 33 CFR part 332
- Compensating for wetland losses under the Clean Water Act (National Research Council report, 2001)
- EPA mitigation banking factsheet
- Contact information
- For more information regarding wetland compensatory mitigation, please contact:
- Pam Schense
Wetland Mitigation Bank Coordinator
- Matt Matrise
Wetland In-Lieu Fee Coordinator