Through out the negotiations for the Foxconn plant now supposedly destined for Mount Pleasant in Racine County…one of the leading causes of consternation among Wisconsin environmentalists has been the removal of wetland protections from the agreement between the State of Wisconsin and Foxconn. I have mentioned it here and here.

But the state of Wisconsin isn’t satisfied with destroying wetlands via a huge plant and $3 billion of state tax payers contributions…let’s finish neutering the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and let just everyone toss around wetlands willy nilly.

In 2001, Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin rushed into action after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and became the first state in the nation to approve protections for a class of land known as isolated wetlands.

They include thousands of acres of potholes, woodland depressions and other parcels that do not connect to interstate waterways.

Now, a bill being circulated by Republican lawmakers who control the Legislature would undo the law by taking away the authority of the Department of Natural Resources to assess the ecological impact of such land before it could be developed.

Supporters say that the 2001 law — passed by a Republican-controlled Assembly and a Democratic-controlled Senate — has been a roadblock for property owners and the construction industry to develop what is viewed by some as marginal land.

Yeah the bill will require those who destroy wetlands to create wetlands at another location at a ratio of 1.2 to 1. But the fact of the matter is there is a reason why wetlands are physically where they are…that’s where the water naturally wants to go. Just because you create a wetland somewhere else or even somewhere nearby doesn’t guarantee the water will want to go there.

Erin O’Brien, the wetlands association’s policy director, said the claims of those who view isolated wetlands as marginal ignore the critical functions they serve for flood control and wildlife habitat, including nesting for waterfowl.

“The bill is not about balance, but about throwing all protections out the window,” O’Brien said.

He noted Wisconsin is one of the few states that regulates isolated wetlands.

So when someone develops a wetland and a neighbor who never had water issues before…starts to have flooding or standing water or water infiltration…will the state make that neighbor whole? Will the developer of the wetlands?

And how much longer will we abide by the removal as the DNR as the protector of our state’s natural resources? Because those resources, after all, are to the benefit of all of Wisconsin.

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