Mitigation Bill

Mitigation Bill

Wisconsin has been a “holdout” in allowing mitigation projects for wetland losses, and is one of the last states to accept mitigation for wetland development activities. The Wisconsin Legislature recently passed a “wetland mitigation bill” during the Spring 2000 Session. Although the new law was a compromise bill endorsed strongly by the Wisconsin Builders Association, it contained some important elements in support of wetland conservation and protection. Not only does the language of the law include the important clause “avoid and minimize” to reduce potential impacts to wetlands, but also includes important enforcement authority for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Until now, the DNR has been unable to enforce violators of state wetland water quality standards (NR 103). The new law allows for an “expedited water quality process” for projects with limited wetland impacts. How the bill will be interpreted is dependent upon the “rule making” process that will be determined in the coming months. For example, although the law allows wetland “creation” (using federal mitigation language), the rules could provide significant disincentives to do so.

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.