Should landowners be allowed to fill wetlands in urban areas without a permit?

My Take

The state Legislature recently passed a bill to make it easier for landowners to fill small, isolated wetlands in urban areas. The bill, authored by state Rep. Jim Steineke, was supported by business groups but opposed by some environmental groups, including the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. Some sporting groups dropped their objections after the bill was amended.

Steineke

Jim Steineke

Assembly majority leader, (R-Kaukauna)

“YES”

Simplifying regulations

“Wisconsin’s wetlands play an important role in our state’s ecology, environment and our sporting communities. But our current wetland laws are in many ways overly complex and difficult to navigate.”

Landowners affected

“Our intent was always to provide a reasonable balance between preserving habitat and quality wetlands, while finding reasonable solutions to many of the problems plaguing homeowners, developers, farmers, local governments and other industries in Wisconsin.”

Environmental impact

“From the start, our goal was to remove unnecessary hurdles to development while still maintaining and protecting our high-quality, critically important wetlands. This bill…keeps our environment safe and our state moving forward.”


Hames

Tracy Hames

Executive director, Wisconsin Wetlands Association

“NO”

Simplifying regulations

“Wisconsin Wetlands Association is strongly supportive of policies that reduce red tape, promote well-planned economic development and protect our wetland resources. This bill achieves none of those goals.”

Landowners affected

“The bill (contains) exemptions for impacts to isolated wetlands within a half-mile radius of every city and village in Wisconsin and in all towns served by a sewerage system…as communities grow and expand, the areas exempt from wetland protection will grow, too.”

Environmental impact

“The bill…clears the way for the destruction of tens, possibly even hundreds, of thousands of acres of wetlands important for waterfowl, trout, furbearers, and many other species of fish and wildlife. The wetlands threatened are also critical for reducing floods, recharging groundwater and protecting water quality.”

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