Sunday, February 25, 2018

Wetland, WI land grabs aired this coming week

There are two important public meetings this coming week where records will be made on corporate threats to Wisconsin land and water

1.  An out-of-state sand mining company wants to fill wetlands and destroy rare timber stands for an operation in Monroe County. 

You can attend a hearing on the proposal beginning Monday, at 9:00 a.m., at the F&M Bank, 1001 Superior Ave. Tomah, Wisconsin 54660.

This is the proposal opposed under existing state statutes and procedures by Clean Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation on which a state legislator intervened legislatively with a bill amendment at the 11th hour.

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For more details, consult the DNR's web page which lists hearing calendars, here, and for up-to-date reporting about the matter, see this story, here:
A note in the drafting documents for the amendment states, “Permit was issued, no discharge yet (because) stayed for contested case hearing. Bypass this by saying no permit required.”
2.  The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board - - the DNR's oversight body - - takes up a separate proposal on Wednesday morning at its Feb. 28th meeting in Madison to allow a Walker donor to obtain acreage in Kohler Andrae State Park and augment development of privately-owned, upscale golf course in an adjoining, privately-owned nature preserve. 

Registration to speak at the WNRB meeting closed Friday, but the discussion is open to the public.

The DNR has already approved a wetland filling permit in the nature preserve where the 18-hole golf course is planned; the developer wants the state park land for road expansion and a maintenance and storage building, and has offered to swap some bordering land in exchange.

Trading land will allow the development to proceed without waiting for the WNRB to amend the park's master plan, potentially a time-consuming process, as was originally envisioned. 

The meeting will take place in Room G09, State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 South Webster Street Madison, Wisconsin, and the specific item in question is 2.B.3 on the agency's 2/28 agendaLand Exchange and Easement – John Michael Kohler State Park – Sheboygan County. 

Both the golf course land grab to serve a Walker donor and the legislative intrusion on behalf of the out-of-state mining company to upend an ongoing wetland permit review procedure are case studies in private-sector favoritism and insider-influence which Scott Walker invited into environmental oversight in Wisconsin when he installed what he called "a chamber of commerce mentality" atop the DNR.

Little wonder that during Walker's tenure there are big dairies operating without current permits, an increase in waterway pollution and persistent contamination of rural well water.

It's instructive and lamentably ironic that an effort to derail an ongoing wetland permit review process in February, 2018 for a Monroe County sand mine mirrors an identical upending initiated by Walker and the Legislature almost seven years to the day of a wetland permit review so a Walker donor-developer could more quickly begin filling a wetland near Lambeau Field.

And there will be more wetlands filled in Wisconsin because Walker and the Legislature are removing protections from 100,000 wetland acres statewide and have exempted Foxconn from any wetland filling permits on the company's roughly 3,000 acre site in Racine County.

All the while knowing that wetlands soak up the state's increasingly heavier and documented rainfall.

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