FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2018
CONTACT: Rep. Jim Steineke
Transformative, Collaborative Wetland Permitting Change Passes Assembly
MADISON – Tonight, the state Assembly passed a bill that transforms the formerly cumbersome and redundant wetland permitting process in Wisconsin. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) authored AB 547 after hearing from families and businesses throughout the state about how timely, expensive, and confusing Wisconsin's current wetland permitting process can be.
"The status quo is not working, and our goal from the beginning on any changes was to find a middle ground. Our property owners and businesses need to grow without unreasonable barriers, and we still have an obligation to provide protection for our high-quality, important wetlands," said Rep. Steineke. "I'm proud to say that we've been able to accomplish that goal with this bill."
Under the amended bill, delineated wetlands must be smaller than 1 acre in urban areas or smaller than 3 acres in an agricultural area where the disturbance would be for a farm structure in order for no permit or mitigation to be required. As with the original bill, man-made wetlands from things like tire ruts or construction projects will not require a permit or mitigation.
"This bill takes a common sense approach towards how we balance development with our environment," Rep. Steineke continued. "From homeowners to small businesses, this bill will help Wisconsinites throughout the state avoid red tape while keeping our high-quality wetlands intact."
The bill contains sections directing to how to strengthen Wisconsin's high-quality wetlands and waterfowl habitats moving forward. A portion of the bill instructs the DNR to spend funds from the in-lieu fee mitigation program in a timely manner. Additionally, it provides for a wetlands study council with stakeholders from the agriculture industry to the wetlands community, in order to guide future legislative action.
The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.