The Department of the Army Regulatory Program is one of the oldest organizations within the federal government. Initially, its purpose was to protect and maintain the navigable capacity of the nation's waters. The St. Paul District’s regulatory role in protecting Minnesota’s and Wisconsin’s water resources has evolved and expanded greatly since the program began regulating commerce and navigation on the Upper Mississippi River in 1866.
Since 1899, under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, Regulatory has reviewed permit applications for any work in, over or under 'Navigable Water. The district’s regulatory role expanded and its mission grew with changing attitudes toward environmental concerns and historic preservation in America. Today, the district is also required to regulate Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, or NHPA, of 1966, as amended. Section 106 requires all federal agencies to consider the impact of their actions on cultural, historical and archaeological resources.
The greatest expansion of the role of the regulatory program came with the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. Under Section 404 of that act, a Corps permit is required for the discharge of dredged or fill material into wetlands and other aquatic areas.
Today, Regulatory evaluates permit applications for essentially all construction activities that occur in wetlands and navigable waters of Minnesota and Wisconsin. St Paul District’s Regulatory Program protects aquatic resources throughout the district, while balancing the needs of agriculture, commerce, and development through the permitting process and the use of a system of mitigation banks.
Although the borders of the St Paul District follow the edges of four river basins– the Mississippi River, the Red River of the North, the Souris River and the Rainy River – and cover an area of approximately 139,000 square miles, the Regulatory Programs jurisdiction is based on state boundaries. In order to improve coordination with state and local permitting agencies, the St. Paul District's Regulatory Program jurisdiction covers only Minnesota and Wisconsin.