One Step Backward and One Step Forward for Indiana Wetlands

One Step Backward and One Step Forward for Indiana Wetlands

The 401 Water Quality Certification and Wetland Water Quality Standard Rules proposed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) have endured another hurdle. After being handed off by the Water Pollution Control Board, the rules have been debated by the Wetland Subcommittee of the Environmental Quality Service Council (EQSC). Recommendations from the Subcommittee were approved November 22 by the full EQSC. IDEM staff are now finalizing changes to the proposed rules in preparation for a second preliminary adoption hearing before the Water Pollution Control Board.

As reported in the September-October Habitat News, Sandra Wilmore of Save the Dunes and George Smolka participated in the Wetland Subcommittee proceedings. The final recommendations were, for the most part, agreeable. They included support for a statewide inventory of wetlands. Of great concern, however, is a provision to allow performance bonding in lieu of the upfront mitigation required in the rules for Tier II wetlands (Tier II wetlands are specific unique habitats which are designated special protections). The other recommendation of concern is for an IDEM sign-on to an interagency agreement on mitigation banking guidelines that has not yet been publicized. Mitigation banking in Indiana is just getting started and SDCF already has problems with the particular guidelines in question and how banks will be operated and managed over the long term. Please see the IDEM (www.state.in.us/idem/owm) or Save the Dunes (www.savedunes.org) websites for more information.

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