Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scott Walker's Real [Estate] Earth Day Proclamation Came On February 29

Walker's office says he signed an Earth Day proclamation, of sorts, on Friday.

[Sunday night update, here.]

Want to know the real story about Walker and the environment?

The real story is about real estate and the Realtors.

Want to know how and where he signed his signature environmental proposal into law - - the Wetlands Deregulation bill?

To a standing ovation at a meeting of the Wisconsin Realtors Association Convention.

I kid you not.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs contentious wetlands development bill into law
By Todd Richmond
Associated Press
Updated:   02/29/2012 06:58:47 PM CST

MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker signed a contentious bill Wednesday that helps developers win wetland construction permits, achieving one of Republican lawmakers' key goals for this legislative session.

Walker signed the measure to a standing ovation at a Wisconsin Realtors Association meeting in Madison...

A host of Wisconsin business groups, including the realtors association and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, pushed hard for the new law, saying it would boost expansion and job creation efforts. Environmentalists countered that the state stands to lose untold acres of wetlands, which would destroy fragile ecosystems and open the door to widespread flooding. 
And if not for the courageous opposition of State Sen. Dale Schultz, (R-Richland Center), the sole Republican and swing vote who joined all Senate Democrats in voting "no," Earth Day 2012 would have been cancelled near Ashland as bulldozers and dynamite blasted away at several pristine square miles to pollute the Bad River watershed in search of iron ore up to 1,000 feet below the Penokee Hills.

A real Earth Day proclamation from a real Governor proud to hold the same office as did Gaylord Nelson (D), or Warren Knowles (R) - - their historic land stewardship fund took a major hit in Walker's budget (are you seeing the anti-Earth Day pattern yet? - -  - - would have reminded all Wisconsinites that the State Constitution says Wisconsin's waters belong to everyone, and on Earth Day and everyday that Constitutional, legacy Public Trust Doctrine would be embraced and protected:

The Public Trust Doctrine

Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone

Wisconsin lakes and rivers are public resources, owned in common by all Wisconsin citizens under the state's Public Trust Doctrine. Based on the state constitution, this doctrine has been further defined by case law and statute. It declares that all navigable waters are "common highways and forever free", and held in trust by the Department of Natural Resources.

Assures Public Rights in Waters

Wisconsin citizens have pursued legal and legislative action to clarify or change how this body of law is interpreted and implemented. Watch how their efforts have benefitted all Wisconsinites: "Champions of the Public Trust" [VIDEO length: 28:02]

As a result, the public interest, once primarily interpreted to protect public rights to transportation on navigable waters, has been broadened to include protected public rights to water quality and quantity, recreational activities, and scenic beauty.(1) 
All Wisconsin citizens have the right to boat, fish, hunt, ice skate, and swim on navigable waters, as well as enjoy the natural scenic beauty of navigable waters, and enjoy the quality and quantity of water that supports those uses.(2)

Wisconsin law recognizes that owners of lands bordering lakes and rivers - "riparian" owners - hold rights in the water next to their property. These riparian rights include the use of the shoreline, reasonable use of the water, and a right to access the water. However, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court has ruled that when conflicts occur between the rights of riparian owners and public rights, the public's rights are primary and the riparian owner's secondary.(1)

What are Wisconsin's stream and lake access laws?

Wisconsin's Public Trust Doctrine requires the state to intervene to protect public rights in the commercial or recreational use of navigable waters. The DNR, as the state agent charged with this responsibility, can do so through permitting requirements for water projects, through court action to stop nuisances in navigable waters, and through statutes authorizing local zoning ordinances that limit development along navigable waterways.

The court has ruled that DNR staff, when they review projects that could impact Wisconsin lakes and rivers, must consider the cumulative impacts of individual projects in their decisions.

"A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC.(2)

(1) Quick, John. 1994. The Public Trust Doctrine in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1.

(2) "Champions of the Public Trust, A History of Water Use in Wisconsin" study guide. 1995. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Water Regulation and Zoning. Champions of the Public Trust - PDF 1,390kb


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