Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Conservation Group Exposes Walker's Harm To State Wetlands

Wetlands are crucial to the state's economic and environmental health, but as the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters discloses, wetlands are just another commodity on Walker's auction block.

Wetlands prevent floods, purify water, bolster the tourism economy, and provide critical wildlife habitat. But why protect all of that goodness when there are parking lots to build?
Wetlands paving was one of Walker's first Gubernatorial actions.

My take a bit earlier, in December, 2010 on the Walker/Stepp DNR:
The new Walker DNR motto: "Cut it, pave it, gut it, fill 'er in."
For the WLCV, this is the fourth in its fine #walkerfail series:
The Walker Conservation Failure Files
During his first legislative session, Scott Walker proved to be the most anti-conservation Governor in Wisconsin’s history. From air to water and land to wildlife, Governor Walker left no stone unturned, desecrating the things that make Wisconsin a great place to live, play, and work. Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters urges voters to replace Walker in his upcoming recall. The Walker Conservation Failure Files detail his many conservation failures.
File IV: Wetlands Fail 
Wetlands prevent floods, purify water, bolster the tourism economy, and provide critical wildlife habitat. But why protect all of that goodness when there are parking lots to build? At least, that’s what Governor Walker and his campaign contributors figured when they passed detrimental wetland bills this past session that endanger our health, our sporting opportunities, and our basements.
Over the last 150 years Wisconsin has lost 5 million acres of its wetlands (nearly half!) to construction and agriculture.1 Without these wetlands, Wisconsin residents face a number of bleak scenarios:
  • Flooding: Destroying wetlands today means more flooding tomorrow. Wetlands act as natural sponges, storing and slowing runoff. When wetland protections are removed, areas downstream will be more vulnerable to the flooding of their homes and businesses. After all, the water has to go somewhere.
  • Contaminated Water: Without wetlands, pollutants will flow straight into our lakes and rivers without being naturally filtered. This means things like pesticides and animal wastes are more likely to end up in the water that we drink,2 or there will be a greater need for pricey water purification plants.
  • Destruction of Ecosystems: Nearly 40 percent of Wisconsin's 370 species of birds live in or use wetlands, and many important game birds, mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles are associated with wetlands, among them waterfowl, white-tailed deer, ring-necked pheasants, northern pike and walleye.3
  • Loss of Tourism: The destruction of wetlands means fewer places for our favorite past times-- hunting, fishing, hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing to name just a few. Bird-watchers and wildlife watchers alone spend $271 million annually waiting for a glimpse of their favorites.3 This bill means less out of state visitors and fewer dollars coming to Wisconsin to enjoy our outdoor recreation.
The first bill cooked up by Walker (SS-SB-10/SS AB 10) created an exemption to wetland protections in the Village of Ashwaubenon for the benefit of a single developer,4 who happens to be a campaign contributor to Governor Walker.5
The next bill (SB 368 & AB 463) went much further, completely reversing the carefully crafted rules that protect Wisconsin’s wetlands, rivers, and lakes.6 One of the biggest problems with the bill is its primary support of “mitigation.”

Here’s the thing about wetland mitigation.
It doesn’t always work.

Wetland mitigation requires that there be no “net loss” of wetlands statewide. So even if the restoration of a destroyed wetland happened 400 miles away, the wetland mitigation standard is satisfied. Filled a wetland in Superior? Just build a new one in Kenosha. As long as this flawless
Walker logic is in place, home and business owners across the state won’t be able to rest easy.
What if the rest of the world operated on the same proposition? It would be like going in for heart surgery and waking up to find your heart sewn to the bottom of your foot. Sure, there’s no “net loss” of your heart, but don’t you think everything would work a whole lot better if your heart was back where it was supposed to be?

Walker listened to campaign contributors instead of voters. In a recent poll, 69% of Wisconsin voters said they opposed weakening our wetlands laws.7 But instead of listening to the majority, Walker decided to listen to one of his biggest campaign supporters, the Wisconsin Realtors Association. Their PAC, which contributed $43,000 to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign,8 pushed hard for wetland rollback legislation and was generously rewarded at our expense.9
Walker has failed Wisconsin- the voters, our natural resources, and our health and safety. It’s time for a Governor that appreciates those things that make Wisconsin great—our wetlands, lakes, and rivers—and makes our health and safety a priority. Stay tuned for more from the Walker Conservation Failure Files.
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View the On-line PDF Here

Contact: Tom Stolp, Field Director Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
715-225-3344 (direct), 715-225-3344 (cell),
Read the complete Walker Conservation Failure Files on-line here.
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
133 S. Butler Street #320 · Madison, WI 53703 · (608) 661-0845 · Fax (608) 661-0835 ·

1 comment:

Say What? said...

A little know fact: Milwaukee County gave the Story Hill Bluff park area to the state by mistake or maybe not.That was revealed to us at a neighborhood meeting. This bluff is currently a buffer to 94 westbound and eastbound. It is also parallel to the Paul Molitor parking lot. At the bottom of the bluff is a small but wonderful wetland. Upon walking up the path next to this precious ecosystem one can feel an immediate drop in temperature. One can hear a spring flowing off the bluff into the storm drains. It is indeed a welcome moment on a long walk. If Walker however wins the recall you can bet that this area will be raped for expansion of the "freeway" in this area. Not only will we lose wetlands but also natural buffers to the noise coming from the "freeway". The concrete wasteland will be at the doorsteps of all those living on Story Hill. Apparently, the state will not give the land back.