Prioritizing Catchments for Wetland Mitigation

Mississippi River Headwaters Bank Service Area, MN | Water


ISG’s environmental team collaborated to analyze and prioritize sections of watershed areas, measured as catchments, for wetland restoration and preservation efforts in the extensive watersheds of the Mississippi River Headwaters Bank Service Area (BSA 5).


The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) required analysis of BSA 5 to prioritize catchments for wetland mitigation as part of a Compensation Planning Framework (CPF). This framework is mandatory by the Federal Mitigation Rule and the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act to designate water catchment areas of high priority for wetland replacement, where preservation, enhancement, restoration, or creation of wetlands will have high public value. The primary use of the data and results of the analysis is to focus wetland credit generation opportunities for the Minnesota Local Government Road Wetland Replacement Program (LGRWRP).


ISG provided technical, writing, and facilitation services in developing the BSA 5 CPF. BSA 5 spans approximately 7.4 million acres and 15 counties in north central Minnesota and is made up of 1,600 catchments distributed across eight major watersheds: the Mississippi River-Headwaters, Leech Lake, Mississippi River-Grand, Mississippi River-Brainerd, Pine River, Crow Wing River, Redeye River, and Long Prairie River.

Having worked on watershed plans for portions of BSA 5 previously, along with numerous other water-focused projects throughout the Midwest, ISG was eager to assist. ISG’s environmental team worked with Brinks Wetland Services to gather information and provide collaborative analysis of GIS data and expertise in wetland mitigation efforts. The team analyzed current and pre-settlement conditions of the watersheds in BSA 5 to identify current baseline conditions, threats, and opportunities. From there, ISG conducted three stakeholder meetings and a survey to determine criteria for prioritizing catchments for wetland mitigation based on public interest and value. This CPF was unique in that it was the first to include criteria and analysis for wetland preservation along with usual considerations for wetland restoration. Equipped with the public’s insights and desired criteria, ISG was able to develop and deliver the final CPF with 23 criterion maps that designated priority catchments for wetland mitigation efforts in BSA 5.

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