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potential wetlands on your property to help understand the ecological value of your property and to help design projects.
wetlands through land use planning, acquisition and wetland protection laws.
wetlands to improve wetland health and function and by re-establishing destroyed wetlands.
wetland losses through restoration, enhancement and establishment.
Compensatory mitigation
Contact information
For more information regarding wetland compensatory mitigation, contact:
DNR wetland mitigation
Josh Brown
In-lieu Fee Coordinator

Wetland compensatory mitigation

Pickerel Frog

Wetlands provide many benefits, including flood control, fish and wildlife habitat, and groundwater recharge. When there are unavoidable impacts to wetlands, it is important to compensate for those impacts. Compensatory mitigation involves the restoration, enhancement, establishment or preservation of wetlands to compensate for unavoidable impacts to other wetlands. The goal of wetland mitigation is to compensate for the functional loss resulting from wetland impacts.

Wisconsin law requires mitigation for wetland impacts approved under wetland individual permits and certain projects authorized under the nonfederal wetland exemption.

There are three options for satisfying compensatory mitigation requirements of wetland individual permits and nonfederal wetland exemptions

Types of compensatory mitigation

  • Wetland Mitigation Banking
    Skunk Cabbage A wetland individual permit applicant or exempt project proponent can purchase credits from an approved bank to satisfy their compensatory mitigation requirement.
  • In–lieu fee program
    A wetland individual permit applicant or exempt project proponent can purchase credits from the DNR sponsored WI Wetland Conservation Trust in-lieu fee program to satisfy their compensatory mitigation requirement.
  • Permittee Responsible Mitigation
    A wetland individual permit applicant can satisfy their compensatory mitigation requirement by completing a mitigation project within the same watershed service area or within a half mile of the permitted wetland impact. An exempt project proponent can complete a mitigation project within the same compensation search area, which includes the geographic management unit (GMU), county and circle with a 20-mile radius of the impacted wetland.

Wisconsin regulations identify participation in mitigation banking and in-lieu fee programs as the preferred options to satisfying compensatory mitigation requirements.

Nonfederal wetland exemption mitigation basics

Under certain circumstances, wetland mitigation is required for impacts in exempt nonfederal wetlands. For more information regarding nonfederal wetland exemptions and mitigation requirements, see:

» wetland disturbance.

Process for projects

  1. Meeting - For both nonfederal exemptions requiring mitigation and individual permit applicants, applicants should meet with their local wetland specialist before submitting a request to DNR. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the proposed project purpose and need, the project alternatives to avoid and minimize wetland impacts, the options for wetland mitigation and the information requirements for the application submittal.
  2. Contact with USACOE - Individual permit applicants are also encouraged to contact the appropriate US Army Corps of Engineer project manager [exit DNR] to determine whether they may also require a permit and compensatory mitigation for the intended activity.
  3. Instruction to satisfy responsibility - After the application has been submitted and the WMS has reviewed the information and has made a preliminary determination as to the amount of approvable wetland impact, the DNR Wetland Mitigation Coordinator will notify the applicant of their mitigation requirement after determining which of the available compensatory mitigation options best replaces the wetland functions lost due to the project.
Kettle Pond

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of DNR regulated wetland activities require compensatory mitigation?

Activities that trigger a DNR wetland individual permit will require compensatory mitigation for unavoidable adverse wetland impacts, whereas activities that are regulated under a wetland general permit do not.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may also require compensatory mitigation through the Federal Section 404 permitting program [exit DNR] and therefore should be contacted early on to determine requirements.

Compensatory mitigation may therefore be required as part of a state individual wetland permit, a federal permit or both making early regulatory agency contact and coordination a key consideration for applicants.

Effective July 1, 2018, some activities in exempt nonfederal wetland activities will also require mitigation. For more information visit wetland disturbance.

Is it true that if a wetland individual permit applicant proposes mitigation they are entitled to receive permit approval?

No. Section 281.36(3n), Wis. Stats., reinforces the fact that mitigation does not entitle an applicant to a wetland individual permit. Applicants must first avoid adverse wetland impacts by looking towards the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative and then minimize their effect on wetland functional values, water quality and overall significant adverse environmental consequences.

Where are bank credits available for purchase and how do I contact them?

Our Wetland Mitigation Bank Registry depicts the DNR–approved banks throughout Wisconsin in each Bank Service Area (BSA). On this page you will also find the contact information for the bank sponsor, whom you can contact for credit availability and pricing.

Can I buy in–lieu fee program credits to satisfy compensatory mitigation requirements?

Yes, the WI Wetland Conservation Trust has been authorized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers enabling wetland in–lieu fee credits to be sold. Please visit the WWCT (in–lieu fee program) for more information regarding credit availability and credit fees.

Last revised: Monday August 19 2019