Bill could eliminate natural wetlands
To the Editor:
Bravo to the Gazette and Ken Blomberg for his fine column in your Feb. 9 issue about the awful bill in the Wisconsin Legislature (AB547 and SB600) to remove protections for our wetlands.
The bill has been amended, but its core remains: state protection for hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands would be removed. Landowners would be able to fill and develop these wetlands with no permit needed.
So-called mitigation would be required in some cases; this means constructing artificial wetland to compensate for the loss of the natural wetland. But every wetland scientist will tell you that our understanding is not good enough to replace natural wetlands in terms of providing habitat, reducing flooding, protecting water quality and more.
Before retiring, I worked in the wetland permitting field. It was very, very unusual for a project to be stopped. Most of the time, projects were either approved without changes, or we worked with the applicant to adjust the project to limit wetland loss. If AB547/SB600 becomes law, people developing projects will know that no one is watching to make sure they minimize their wetland impact. Negotiation between applicants and the DNR won’t occur, and wetlands that easily could have been preserved will be destroyed.
If you are concerned about wildlife habitat, water quality and protecting our infrastructure and property from flooding, please contact your state senator and assembly member and tell them to halt SB600 and AB547.