Wisconsin conservation groups join forces to raise awareness of legislation that could threaten state wetlands

Wetlands and wild lands are jewels that provide humans with a quality lifetime. (Photo by Tim Eisele)

How much more damage can Wisconsin’s legislators do to the state’s natural resources?

Plenty. For a start, look at where they are going with AB 547, which poses a threat to thousands of acres of Wisconsin’s wetlands.

Conservation groups are so concerned about this pending legislation that the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, the Conservation Congress, Wisconsin Trappers Association, Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, and Pheasants Forever issued a joint press alert Feb. 8 on the bill.

Assembly Bill 547 and Senate Bill 600, co-authored by Rep. Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) and Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton), exempt artificial wetlands and non-federal wetlands from wetland permitting regulations of the Wisconsin DNR.

Federal wetlands are navigable, are connected to navigable waterways, and are regulated by the federal government.  State wetlands, or isolated wetlands, are those not connected to navigable waters, and in 2001 a U.S. Supreme Court decision left these wetlands unprotected.

Bruce Ross, a Ducks Unlimited volunteer, notes that Wisconsin has already suffered 50 percent wetland loss over the course of its history.

He reiterates that AB 547 removes the permit process that encourages responsible development in and around all Wisconsin cities and villages. In addition, it does not require mitigation for wetland acres lost to development in these areas.

The River Alliance, Wisconsin Wetlands Association, and other conservation groups agree that AB 547 does not offer enough protections for the state’s wetlands and can harm thousands of acres.

The long and the short is that people who care about clean water, flood control, ducklings and goslings, shorebirds, reptiles and amphibians, and fish should contact their state representative and senator now to voice their concerns.

And, it won’t hurt to send the same message to Sen. Roth and Rep. Steineke: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/.

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