Over the last two hundred years, the United States has experienced dramatic losses in wetland coverage and quality. In 1987, the National Wetlands Policy Forum recommended that U.S. wetlands policy should achieve overall “no net loss” of the country’s remaining wetland acreage and function. Since then, regulations requiring compensatory mitigation for wetland losses, often through wetland creation or restoration, have become an essential component of federal wetland protection efforts. Recent reports have concluded that no net loss policy has been successful, citing the virtual elimination of wetland losses experienced in certain areas. However, these reports have not assessed the temporal nature of wetland loss and restoration. Delays in initiating and completing restoration activities mean that frequent temporary wetland losses can contribute to a consistent net loss over time. This paper analyzes wetland loss and compensation as dynamic processes that include temporal lags endemic to various mitigation techniques. Here, a system dynamics model of the mitigation process is used to explore wetland alteration and mitigation data collected between 1993 and 2004 for the Chicago, IL region. By analyzing wetland change dynamically, it becomes possible to adjust wetland mitigation methods to more effectively eliminate temporal net loss of wetlands.