Wetland compensatory mitigation
In March 2012, Governor Walker signed into law 2011 WI Act 118 , which requires applicants to mitigate for wetland impacts under an individual permit. Compensatory mitigation involves wetland restoration, enhancement, creation or preservation to "compensate" for wetland loss either through the purchase of credits from a preapproved mitigation bank or through projects completed by the applicant.
The new Wisconsin regulations define the circumstances when DNR shall require an applicant to apply for a wetland individual permit (IP); all IP projects require the applicant to mitigate for wetland impacts.
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 wetland losses. Some "enhancement" of existing degraded wetlands may also be acceptable as mitigation. Creation of wetlands from historically upland areas may be acceptable, but only if the applicant can show that there is a high probability for success. Preservation is also allowed as a method for mitigation but only under very limited circumstances.
- Compensatory mitigation is required for all wetland IPs.
- Applicants must always show that they have made reasonable attempts to avoid and minimize wetland impacts.
- 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 that have been established to assure that these projects are carried out in a manner that has a high likelihood for success.
Guidelines and program reporting
- 2002 Guidelines for wetland compensatory mitigation in Wisconsin*
- MOA with federal agencies concerning the adoption of mitigation guidelines in Wisconsin, May 2002*
- Current reporting information
*The Guidelines for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation in Wisconsin (Guidelines) have been updated and the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are accepting comments on this draft document through March 15, 2013. A summary of the changes made from the 2002 Guidelines to this current draft can be found below.
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
For more information regarding wetland compensatory mitigation, please contact: