The Sheldon Marsh ecosystem has been put at risk in the last two months. Mr. Bob Barnes, owner of Barnes Nursery, applied for a Nationwide Permit (NWP 27) in June under the guise of building a waterfowl impoundment pond and nesting islands. The next day, the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued the permit for construction in waters adjacent to Sheldon Marsh. (NWP 27 was designed to allow restoration of wetlands, but not in pristine wetlands and not conversion of existing wetlands to another aquatic use.) Construction created what can be viewed as an “irrigation canal” to bring water in from Lake Erie for the purpose of watering Barnes Nursery stock (approximately 300,000+ gallons/day). The dredging has resulted in a channel 50 feet wide and resultant dike about 1/4 mile in length along the western edge of Sheldon Marsh.
Several points might be made about the process of granting this permit by the Corps:
In any case the project has now been temporarily interrupted. In order to continue, Mr. Barnes must apply to the Corps for an individual permit (which is more restrictive and allows for public scrutiny). The question remains as to what should be required of Mr. Barnes to correct the damage done. The Corps should follow through with a permit compliance investigation, and require that the area be restored to its original state immediately. It is important to have this done as soon as possible, since damage is being caused to this vital Category 3 wetland by the presence of the huge dike dredged up when a channel was created. Sediments are entering the marsh and the natural flow of waters from the mainland are blocked. It is through the dedicated efforts of friends of Sheldon Marsh that pressure is being brought to bear on public agencies to correct the damage done and stop the threat of further damage.
Visit the Sheldon Marsh website at www.schaffer.cc/sheldonsmarsh/sheldonsmarsh.html for more information on a wetland at risk and the grassroots efforts to prevent its destruction.