Monday, April 9, 2018

54 issues on tonight's public conservation ballot in all WI Counties.

You want to tell the DNR and Legislature to get cracking on climate change?

Ditto for protections for resources as varied as groundwater, stream integrity at the edge of plowed farm fields, and pollinators threatened by various pesticides?

Or weigh in on dozens of state hunting, fishing and recreational rules, programs and priorities in a once-a-year, state-sanctioned poll?

Keep reading.

As I noted yesterday, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, WCC, holds free and fully-open public sessions once a year to gather advice for the DNR and other policy-makers on a host of conservation issues, and those meetings are tonight, Monday April 9, beginning at a 7 p.m.

Attendees at this year's meetings will be able to vote "yes" or "no" on 54 measures, and there are also opportunities at the meeting to get involved in an electoral process to choose WCC delegates.

The WCC is created by state statute, and has substantial institutional input into the setting of DNR and Wisconsin Natural Resources Board priorities.

Here is the DNR's webpage about the meetings.

I am grateful to Journal Sentinel outdoors writer Paul Smith for his complete account which lays out the meetings processes, locations and goals.

I also want to point you to the full, lengthy text of all the policy questions on the ballot, noting that you can send in comments for the formal record on the questions through April 9th, per directions in the text, but to have your opinion included in the official tallies for state officials, you must express them on a ballot at one of the meetings.

While many of the questions are specific to a particular agricultural or recreational program or regulation, there is a question on this year's ballot about restoring climate change and climate science to the Legislature's agenda and DNR mission "to support science and market based legislation and rules to reduce the risk of global warming and increase the use of renewable energy resources."

Remember that the DNR scrubbed climate change and climate science from its web pages, that Walker-coordinated Legislature has been indifferent to the known impacts in Wisconsin of a changing climate - - 

- - and have been routinely hostile to alternative energy projects, including solar, wind and rail transit - -  so a strong "Yes" vote on the question below would be newsworthy and could help redirect years of official green energy and clean air intransigence and obstruction.

Here is that question:
  1. Would you support the WCC take a position and encourage legislators and DNR to support science and market based legislation and rules to reduce the risk of global warming and increase the use of renewable energy resources? 
Some other questions I found interesting illustrate the great breadth of ballot matters:

QUESTIONS 42: Penalties for tilling land within 5 feet of channel or surface water (540317) (requires legislation)

Currently the only penalty for farmers who intentionally plow their fields right to the water edge is the loss of their Farmland Tax Credit. If the farmer is not in that program, there is no penalty. Plowing to the water’s edge can cause an increased risk of erosion, which may lead to runoff draining into the water bringing with it silt, chemicals and fertilizers. This leads to algae blooms, oxygen depletion, and potential well contamination.

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42. Should the Conservation Congress work with the DNR, NRB, and legislature to enact fines/penalties to any landowner and/or renter of agricultural land who violates the law and tills within 5 feet of any stream, ditch, or top of the channel of any surface water?
42. YES____ NO_____
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QUESTION 43: Designate all karstic Wisconsin as sensitive areas (120417, 150317, 230217, 250317, 250517, 310217, 420517, 570617, 560317, 720727)
Karst geology is a special type of landscape characterized by underground drainage systems with
sinkholes and caves. This feature can result in ground water flow rates of hundreds of feet per day, versus the normal few inches or feet per day. This easy access and rapid flow makes the groundwater in these areas exceedingly susceptible to contamination. The impoundment of any sort of waste or even water in these areas is complicated, and can cause potential collapse, failure, or contamination. Current regulatory structures do not allow municipalities to implement regulations to protect the public in these areas.
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43. Do you support the Conservation Congress working with the DNR and NRB to establish new rules designating the entire karstic areas of Wisconsin, both dolomite and calcareous bedrock areas, as sensitive areas meriting special groundwater protection by the State and freeing municipal governments to make additional rules and regulations based on local geological consideration?
43. YES____
NO_____
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QUESTION 44: Conduct hydrogeological surveys in counties lacking them (010117, 120117, 230117, 250217, 390317, 420617, 530217, 540117, 560217, 570717, 630817, 720817) (requires legislation)
Clean and abundant groundwater is an essential resource shared by all of us. Wisconsin is currently experiencing growth and interest in high capacity well approvals and pollution discharge permits. Both can risk ground water resources. Some wells and waterways are already being negatively impacted.
Local governments share in the responsibility to protect these resources, and should use the best data available to make science-based decisions.

44. Should the Conservation Congress work with the DNR, the NRB, and
the legislature to require hydrogeological surveys be conducted in 44. YES____ NO_____ counties where none have yet been done?

QUESTION 45: Ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on state owned agriculture and forest land
(530117) (requires legislation)
Neonicotinoids are a widely used class of insecticides. They are neurotoxins that are present throughout all parts of the plant once applied, including the leaves, pollen, and nectar. They can also contaminate water resources and soils as well. Studies show that pollinators are endangered through acute poisonings by coming into contact with these toxins. It has been widely reported that we are currently experiencing a large loss of pollinators.

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45. Should the Conservation Congress work with the DNR, NRB and Wisconsin Legislature to take up the “Saving Wisconsin Pollinators Act,” and include specific language to ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides (dinotefuran, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) regardless of application method on all state owned agricultural and forest lands, and establish limited use guidelines for continued use on commercial and private agricultural lands?
45. YES____
NO_____
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1 comment:

Scott Pitta said...

These county level hearings provide the public the opportunity to clearly communicate to both the WCC and the DNR on specific conservation issues. Votes are counted and many in government study the results. It is democracy in action.