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Wetland Restoration

Solution: Wetland Restoration

Wetland Restoration:  Restoring a previously drained wetland by filling ditches or removing or breaking tile drains.

How it WorksPhoto of wetlands.

Where wetlands have been drained and farmed, subsurface and surface drains are plugged or removed so water can refill the area. In other cases, low-lying areas are scraped to form a shallow basin, and small dikes or embankments are installed to establish and maintain water levels. Native wetland vegetation can be planted to enhance existing plants. The wetland temporarily holds runoff (reducing flooding downstream), and filters sediment, nutrients and chemicals before the water recharges groundwater. America’s ducks and geese rely on wetlands, as do hundreds of species of plants, amphibians and native birds.


  • Consult local DNR and county zoning offices for necessary permits.
  • Check with local NRCS offices for soils information, and design and construction standards.
  • Make sure soils at the site will hold water.
  • Consider whether plugging drains or breaking tile lines will have adverse effects on other parts of your farm, neighboring farms or established drainage districts.
  • Exclude livestock from the area.
  • Establish vegetative cover on embankments and spillways.
  • Existing natural seed banks will sometimes regenerate native vegetation in the wetland.
  • Adjacent upland nesting cover greatly improves the value of wetlands for wildlife.


  • Replanting wetland vegetation may be needed until a good stand is established.
  • Control beavers and muskrats, and keep burrowing rodents out of dikes.
  • Remove debris from pipe inlets and outlets.
  • Inspect and repair pipes or water control structures.

More information about wetlands.Questions?  Ask a Conservationist!