The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform have scheduled a joint hearing for Dec. 21 in the state Capitol.
They are taking comments on a bill that would eliminate permits for building on certain Wisconsin wetland areas.
The bill, authored by Sen. Roger Roth and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, would eliminate the Department of Natural Resources wetland development permit system. Builders would still have to create 1.2 acres of wetlands for every acre filled, however.
Environmentalists are concerned Wisconsin stands to lose natural pockets of marshy earth that soak up storm water as well as provide habitat and that, unregulated by permits, there would be a lack of control over this process.
About 80 percent of the state’s wetlands are connected to surface water – streams or lakes. That 80 percent falls under the scrutiny of the Army Corps of Engineers.
It’s the remaining 20 percent –that have no surface water connection - that the proposed bill covers. Protections for isolated, or remnant, wetlands would be removed, allowing for the land to be developed. However, wetlands – large and small – are crucial to ecology and wildlife.
Wetlands act as natural sponges. They absorb and slow down water, thus reducing the risk of flooding in huge storms. These natural systems also clean the water as it slowly trickles through the soils into the groundwater. They also provide habitats.
US News & World Report; NPR News
If you are unable to attend the hearing but would like to share your thoughts, you can contact the committee chairs:
Senator Robert L Cowles: Sen.Cowles@legis.wisconsin.gov
Rep. Cody Horlacher: Rep.Horlacher@legis.wisconsin.gov