Minnesota's wetlands are in good shape up north, but troublesome elsewhere


Overall, Minnesota's wetlands are healthy – but outside of northern Minnesota, many are contaminated or have been taken over by invasive species, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reports found.

Minnesota has 10.6 million acres of wetlands – nearly 20 percent of the state's land cover, the MPCA notes. (To put that into perspective, that covers more area than the state's lakes and rivers combined.)

And thanks to Minnesota's Wetland Conservation Act passed in 1991, the quantity of wetlands hasn't changed much.

That's good news, the MPCA says, because wetlands filter water, help control flooding and provide a home for various animals (including ducks, geese and insects.)

But the health of the wetlands can affect how they contribute to the ecosystem – and the MPCA found that the quality of Minnesota's wetlands varies "drastically" by region. (See the table at the bottom of the page.)

Where things are good, bad

Wetlands in northeast and north-central Minnesota – where nearly 75 percent of the state's wetlands are located – are thriving, thanks in part to less development and lighter land use, the MPCA says.

But it's the opposite in the rest of the state, where 80 percent have degraded vegetation quality.

The wetlands are being taken over by invasive cattails and reed canary grass, among other invasive species, which push out the native plants that provide a habitat to many animals, according to the reports. Runoff from fertilizers and road salt are also affecting them.

“Excess phosphorus and nitrogen levels from runoff pose a significant threat to the biological integrity of these wetlands,” Michael Bourdaghs, MPCA research scientist and author of one of the reports, said in the news release.

Because of the decreasing quality of some of the state's wetlands, the MPCA is recommending a greater emphasis on wetland protection to ensure they are able to support watershed health and animal habitats.

Bourdaghs says the best conservation strategy is preserving healthy wetlands instead of destroying them and replacing them somewhere else (which current regulations allow), but doing so would require a change in the way wetlands are protected, the Star Tribune says.

Read more about the state's wetland regulations here.

Next Up

covid saliva test

Minnesota opening its 7th saliva testing location in St. Paul

The tests are free and open to anyone regardless of if they have symptoms.

pete stauber - qunn nystrom CD8

Election 2020 preview: Minnesota's 8th Congressional District

It's a race between incumbent Rep. Pete Stauber and Democratic challenger Quinn Nystrom.

coronavirus, covid-19, icu

Minnesota's COVID-19 hospitalizations increase by 27.5% in 24 hours

Bring Me The News confirmed that the dramatic increase is not a numbers error.

fire, flames

Lives saved as passerby, city workers rescue from 3 from Golden Valley fire

The Golden Valley Fire Department responded to the fire Wednesday morning.

Caribou Coffee Holiday 2020

Caribou Coffee rolls out holiday cups, menu early

The holiday season is underway at some Twin Cities stores, with a nationwide rollout planned for Nov. 5.

Malik Beasley

Charges: Timberwolves' Beasley pointed assault rifle at family on a home tour

The family was on the Parade of Homes tour when Beasley allegedly pointed the gun at them, telling them to get off his property.

aldi grocery store

Aldi is opening its first store in Winona next month

The new store is part of Aldi's $5 billion expansion across the U.S.

coronavirus, COVID-19 test

COVID-19: Minnesota planning rapid testing for young adults

Health officials are in the planning stages of launching a rapid testing option for 18 to 35 year olds.