Wetland Mitigation Rules Nearing Completion
A recent hearing and decision by a joint committee of the State Legislature cleared the way for the state’s new mitigation law (2000) to go into effect soon. Wisconsin is one of the last states in the region to allow mitigation for permitted wetland destruction. The state has tried to learn from the errors of other states in formulating the rules that accompany the law. Salient features of the rules include:
- Mitigation is not acceptable for a fill project until the applicant demonstrates that he/she has successfully avoided and minimized wetland impacts. Mitigation can be offered only at the point when it appears that a fill project will be permitted.
- A base ratio of 1.5 restored acres is required for every acre of fill. Restoration is significantly favored over enhancement or “creation” projects. Ratios will increase for enhancement and creation projects.
- The mitigation must be accomplished within the watershed, or within the county, or a 20-mile radius of the project. If it is found that mitigation cannot be accomplished in the impact area, the developer may select to pay for credits through any local mitigation bank, or through one of two recognized statewide mitigation banks.
- The statewide mitigation banks are obligated to facilitate a lesser degree of wetland restoration close to the impact area, thereby keeping the mitigation as close to the filled site as possible.
The new rules may be hard to implement, since the five staff persons requested by the Department of Natural resources were reduced to 2.5 staff by the Legislature, and the Governor has recently placed a freeze on all state hiring.
Wisconsin Wetlands Association
Serving as Hub for Wisconsin
222 S. Hamilton Street-Suite 1
Madison, WI 53703