Loss of wetlands in Wisconsin: Conservation misfortunes plaguing the state grows
By Ken M. Blomberg
They are at it again. The misdirected Administration and Legislature in Madison – self-proclaimed environmental landlords of Wisconsin’s public and private natural resources, now rewriting the rules that govern wetland protection. Last week, the associated press reported the GOP-controlled Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform voted 6-3 along party lines to relaxing wetland development regulations. They passed a bill out of committee that would allow developers to fill state wetlands without permits and scale back mitigation requirements – clearing the way for a full Assembly vote later this month.
At issue is the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)’s wetland permitting process. Currently, the rule for mitigation is 1.2 acres of wetlands created for every 1 acre destroyed within the same watershed or a half-mile of the site, pay into a fund the DNR uses to restore wetlands, or developers must buy or apply credits from a mitigation bank. The first version of the proposed bill allowed developers to fill state wetlands anywhere in Wisconsin without a permit. Under pressure from opponents like Ducks Unlimited (DU), the bill’s author now allows for developers to fill up to an acre outside rare and high-quality wetlands in urban wetlands and up to 3 acres per parcel of wetlands in rural areas for work related to agricultural structures. Any artificial wetland could be filled without a permit.
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