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84.035 PEATLAND PROTECTION.
    Subdivision 1. Citation. Sections 84.035 and 84.036 may be cited as the "Minnesota
Peatland Protection Act."
    Subd. 2. Findings. The legislature finds that certain Minnesota peatlands possess unique
scientific, aesthetic, vegetative, hydrologic, geologic, wildlife, wilderness, and educational
values and represent the various peatland ecological types in the state. The legislature finds that
it is desirable and appropriate to protect and preserve these patterned peatlands as a peatland
management system through establishment and designation of certain peatland core areas as
scientific and natural areas.
    Subd. 3. Definitions. Unless language or context clearly indicates that a different meaning is
intended, the following terms, for the purposes of sections 84.035 and 84.036, have the meanings
given to them.
(a) "Winter road" means an access route which may be used by vehicles only when the
substrate is frozen, except as provided in subdivision 5, paragraph (b), clause (3).
(b) "Corridors of disturbance" means rights-of-way which are in existence on the effective
date of Laws 1991, chapter 354, such as ditches, ditch banks, transmission lines, pipelines,
permanent roads, winter roads, and recreational trails. The existence, on the effective date of
Laws 1991, chapter 354, of a corridor of disturbance may be demonstrated by physical evidence,
document recorded in the office of county recorder or other public official, aerial survey, or
other evidence similar to the above.
(c) "State land" means land owned by the state of Minnesota and administered by the
commissioner.
    Subd. 4. Designation of peatland scientific and natural areas. Within the peatland areas
described in section 84.036, state lands are hereby established and designated as scientific and
natural areas to be preserved and managed by the commissioner in accordance with subdivision 5
and section 86A.05, subdivision 5.
    Subd. 5. Activities in peatland scientific and natural areas. Areas designated in
subdivision 4 as peatland scientific and natural areas are subject to the following conditions:
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), all restrictions otherwise applicable to scientific and
natural areas designated under section 86A.05, subdivision 5, apply to the surface use and to any
use of the mineral estate which would significantly modify or alter the peatland water levels or
flows, peatland water chemistry, plant or animal species or communities, or other natural features
of the peatland scientific and natural areas, including, but not limited to, the following prohibitions:
(1) construction of any new public drainage systems after the effective date of Laws 1991,
chapter 354, or improvement or repair to a public drainage system in existence on the effective
date of Laws 1991, chapter 354, under authority of chapter 103E, or any other alteration of
surface water or groundwater levels or flows unless specifically permitted under paragraph (b),
clause (5) or (6);
(2) removal of peat, sand, gravel, or other industrial minerals;
(3) exploratory boring or other exploration or removal of oil, natural gas, radioactive
materials or metallic minerals which would significantly modify or alter the peatland water
levels or flows, peatland water chemistry, plant or animal species or communities, or natural
features of the peatland scientific and natural areas, except in the event of a national emergency
declared by Congress;
(4) commercial timber harvesting;
(5) construction of new corridors of disturbance, of the kind defined in subdivision 3, after
June 5, 1991; and
(6) ditching, draining, filling, or any other activities which modify or alter the peatland water
levels or flows, peatland water chemistry, plant or animal species or communities, or other natural
features of the peatland scientific and natural areas.
(b) The following activities are allowed:
(1) recreational activities, including hunting, fishing, trapping, cross-country skiing,
snowshoeing, nature observation, or other recreational activities permitted in the management
plan approved by the commissioner;
(2) scientific and educational work and research;
(3) maintenance of corridors of disturbance, including survey lines and preparation of winter
roads, consistent with protection of the peatland ecosystem;
(4) use of corridors of disturbance unless limited by a management plan adopted by the
commissioner under subdivision 6;
(5) improvements to a public drainage system in existence on the effective date of Laws
1991, chapter 354, only when it is for the protection and maintenance of the ecological integrity
of the peatland scientific and natural area and when included in a management plan adopted by
the commissioner under subdivision 6;
(6) repairs to a public drainage system in existence on the effective date of Laws 1991,
chapter 354, which crosses a peatland scientific and natural area and is used for the purposes of
providing a drainage outlet for lands outside of the peatland scientific and natural area, provided
that there are no other feasible and prudent alternative means of providing the drainage outlet.
The commissioner shall cooperate with the ditch authority in the determination of any feasible
and prudent alternatives. No repairs which would significantly modify or alter the peatland
water levels or flows, peatland water chemistry, plant or animal species or communities, or
other natural features of the peatland scientific and natural areas shall be made unless approved
by the commissioner;
(7) motorized uses on a corridor of disturbance, if the corridor existed on or before January
1, 1992, provided that recreational motorized uses may occur only when the substrate is frozen,
or the corridor is snow packed, subject to a management plan developed in accordance with
subdivision 6;
(8) control of forest insects, disease, and wildfires, as described in a management plan
adopted by the commissioner under subdivision 6; and
(9) geological and geophysical surveys which would not significantly modify or alter the
peatland water levels or flows, peatland water chemistry, plant or animal species or communities,
or other natural features of the peatland scientific and natural areas.
    Subd. 6. Management plans. The commissioner shall develop in consultation with the
affected local government unit a management plan for each peatland scientific and natural area
designated under section 84.036 in a manner prescribed by section 86A.09.
The management plan shall address recreational trails. In those peatland scientific and
natural areas where no corridor of disturbance was used as a recreational trail on or before January
1, 1992, the plan may permit only one corridor of disturbance, in each peatland scientific and
natural area, to be used as a recreational motorized trail.
    Subd. 7. Establishing baseline ecological data. The commissioner shall establish baseline
data on the ecology and biological diversity of peatland scientific and natural areas and provide
for ongoing, long-term ecological monitoring to determine whether changes are occurring in the
peatland scientific and natural areas. This research is intended to identify any changes occurring
in peatland scientific and natural areas as a result of any permitted activities outside the peatland
scientific and natural areas. This baseline data may include, but is not limited to, the history of the
peatlands and their geologic origins, plant and animal communities, hydrology, water chemistry,
and contaminants introduced from remote sources of atmospheric deposition.
    Subd. 8. Ditch abandonments. In order to eliminate repairs or improvements to any
public drainage system that crosses a peatland scientific and natural area in those instances
where the repair or improvement adversely affects an area, the commissioner may petition for
the abandonment of parts of the public drainage system under section 103E.811. If the public
drainage system is necessary as a drainage outlet for lands outside of the peatland scientific and
natural area, the commissioner will cooperate with the ditch authority in the development of
feasible and prudent alternative means of providing a drainage outlet which avoids the crossing of
and damage to the peatland scientific and natural area. In so doing, the commissioner shall grant
flowage easements to the ditch authority for disposal of the outlet water on other state lands. The
ditch authority shall approve the abandonment of parts of any public drainage system crossing a
peatland scientific and natural area if the public drainage system crossing of those areas is not
necessary as a drainage outlet for lands outside of the areas or if there are feasible and prudent
alternative means of providing a drainage outlet without crossing such areas. In any abandonment
under this subdivision the commissioner may enter into an agreement with the ditch authority
regarding apportionment of costs and, contingent upon appropriations of money for that purpose,
may agree to pay a reasonable share of the cost of abandonment.
    Subd. 9. Compensation for trust fund lands. The commissioner shall acquire by exchange
or eminent domain the surface interests, including peat, on trust fund lands contained in peatland
scientific and natural areas established in subdivision 4.
    Subd. 10. Acquisition of peatland scientific and natural areas. The commissioner may
acquire by purchase the surface interests, including peat, of lands within the boundaries of the
peatland areas described in section 84.036, that are owned, or that hereafter become owned, by
the state and administered by the local county board.
The commissioner shall designate any land acquired under this subdivision as peatland
scientific and natural area and preserve and administer any land so acquired and designated in
accordance with subdivision 5 and section 86A.05.
History: 1991 c 354 art 8 s 1; 1992 c 464 art 2 s 1; 1996 c 462 s 1,2; 1997 c 2 s 7