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Letter: FSC seeks protection of remaining wetlands

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The remaining environmentally essential wetlands in Indiana are gravely threatened. The Indiana General Assembly is considering a bill, Senate Bill 389, that, “Repeals state regulated wetlands law. Repeals the law requiring a permit from the department of environmental management for wetland activity in a state regulated wetland. Makes corresponding changes to eliminate references to that law.” (SB 389 Abstract) This bill has already passed in the Senate by a vote of 29 to 19. Our Senator Boots is listed as a co-author of the bill and voted for it. The bill will now be considered by the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 389 would remove all regulation protecting 80 to 90 percent of the remaining wetlands in Indiana, putting those vital ecological resources at the mercy of industrial, commercial and residential developers. It would eliminate the requirements to receive a permit to develop on a wetland site, to mitigate harm done to a wetland, or develop a replacement for one that is damaged, reduced or eliminated by development. (The existing law provides many exceptions and exemptions for agricultural activity and individual residential sites.)

Only about 20 percent of Indiana’s original wetlands remain after 200 years of settlement, growth and development. But those remaining wetlands play essential roles in the environment and communities in which we live. Wetlands operate like giant sponges during storms, soaking up and holding for slow release water that otherwise would rush quickly into flooding streams and rivers. They hold, filter, and help purify water seeping into underground aquifers or releasing slowly into surface water. Finally, they provide critically important habitat for many species of wildlife. It is estimated that one-third of threatened or endangered species live in wetlands.   

Consistent with our mission to “Protect, restore and promote appreciation of Sugar Creek and its watershed,” Friends of Sugar Creek strongly opposes Senate Bill 389, and urges our members and supporters to contact your state legislators, including State Reps. Tim Brown and Sharon Negele to oppose it. Call them at 1-800-382-9841.

Friends of Sugar Creek

Board of Directors

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