In April, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) finalized the denial of Barnes Nursery’s 401 water quality permit. The Nursery dropped their appeal to OEPA effectively ending the Nursery’s application for the Army Corps 404 after-the-fact permit for an illegal dike and channel constructed through the wetlands of Sheldon Marsh.
The dropping of the appeals and finalizing of the permit denial marked a hard-earned and long-awaited victory for the Friends of Sheldon Marsh (FOSM), a grassroots organization which has worked to protect Sheldon Marsh from the dike and channel since July of 2000. With the OEPA’s denial of the Water Quality Certification and the effective end of the Nursery’s application for the Army 404 after-the-fact permit, the Nursery is not allowed to expand their dike and channel or to continue benefiting from the damage they have caused to Sheldon Marsh.
FOSM are now working to have the wetland restored to its pre-construction condition and for the Army Corps to live up to its earlier demand that the nursery restore the wetland in absence of the 404 permit. If the dike and channel are allowed to remain in the category III wetlands, it could set a dangerous precedent for undermining wetlands laws nationally.