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DNR completes update of Minnesota's National Wetlands Inventory

DNR completes update of Minnesota's National Wetlands Inventory Photo: KSTP

June 03, 2019 11:59 AM

The first updated mapping of the state's wetlands since the mid-1980s is now complete.

A release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said the agency has wrapped up a 10-year effort to update and provide more accurate maps of Minnesota's wetlands.

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had originally mapped wetlands in the state in the late 1970s and early 1980s as part of the National Wetlands Inventory.

Local government agencies and others still rely on that effort for things like water and transportation planning, shoreland management and wetland permits.

The new effort utilized new technologies in an effort to provide a clearer picture.

"It's important to have accurate data to make those decisions," said Steve Kloiber, the wetlands monitoring coordinator for the Minnesota DNR. "The old information we were relying on was not very accurate anymore. This provides a more accurate picture."

The release said the new dataset shows there are 12.2 million acres of wetlands in Minnesota, distinguished by "relatively shallow water or saturated soils with permanent vegetation under normal conditions." That number does include some of the shallower areas of what would be considered lakes, as those areas meet the definition of a wetland.

In all, Kloiber said there are about 2.9 million acres of what would be considered lake habitat - including the shallower and more deep-water areas.

He also said the technology available today makes it hard to draw any comparisons with the numbers in the original NWI.

"There are just so many more tools available to us now when it comes to mapping wetlands that an apples-to-apples comparison would be really hard to draw," Kloiber said.

The release said while the new numbers represent a more accurate view, they cannot stand alone in all circumstances.

"While the new wetland map data are an improvement over the original NWI and are useful for planning and identifying the potential need for wetland permits, they are not sufficiently accurate on their own to determine all applicable wetland regulations," the release read. 

"Landowners considering work that may affect wetlands should contact their county soil and water conservation district or the DNR for advice on determining whether wetlands are present and the exact location of the regulated wetland boundary."

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