Governor Signs 2019 Wetland Mitigation Bill
Paul Heinen and Ron GrasshoffWI Green Fire, December 14, 2019
On November 25, 2019 Governor Evers signed Senate Bill 169 into law as 2019 Wisconsin Act 59. The bill was designed to steer wetland mitigation closer to the site of a development project by requiring developers who elect to purchase mitigation bank credits to try to buy them near the site and within the same hydrologic unit or watershed where possible.
Wetland mitigation is the requirement to restore a wetland to help compensate for unavoidable wetland loss due to a permitted development project. Wetland mitigation banks are large scale restoration projects that offer credits for sale to permit applicants.
The bill also makes changes to the schedule for release of mitigation bank credits. The bill authors’ intent was to make mitigation efforts more appealing to entities interested in doing work to expand activity in the field.
Wisconsin’s Green Fire’s (WGF) Ron Grasshoff testified on the bill several times and explained to the legislative committees how the wetlands mitigation program works. He asked for some changes that would make the law more effective. The committees added his ideas and the full Legislature approved them as part of Act 59. These changes will result in wetland mitigation closer to the impacted site. They also result in a more conservative approach to making credits available from wetland mitigation banks – making sure a mitigation site is identified, designed, and well monitored before applicants can buy credits. Ron’s testimony was based on his long experience with wetland regulations. Wisconsin’s Green Fire members continue to be effective voices for the environment at the State Capitol. Download a pdf of WGF testimony.
Paul Heinen is Legislative Liaison for Wisconsin’s Green Fire. Ron Grasshoff is co-chair of the Public Trust and Wetlands Work Group.