By Jeff Stant, IFA Executive Director
Call or Write Governor Holcomb
SB 229 is now on Governor Eric Holcomb’s desk–he received it yesterday. He has until March 25 to sign it. If he does not sign the bill, it becomes law the next day.
It’s Your Turn
IFA staff are acutely aware of the complex situation we are experiencing as a country. And yet, the assaults on the ecological systems upon which we depend never end. Now, more than ever, we must act. We have an important opportunity to protect Indiana’s increasingly rare wetlands.
All that’s required is a quick phone call or email message to the governor.
Ask Governor Holcomb To VETO SB 229. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has opposed this bill. Your call will only take a few minutes and will signal to the Governor and his staff that his constituents will never take a break from protecting our natural resources.
Call 317.232.4567, 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday
Please spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, e-blast, and/or an email message to friends and colleagues
SB 229 Background (in case you missed it)
IFA previously shared the following alert most of which was issued by Tim Maloney, Hoosier Environmental Council’s Senior Policy Director. We have included it in case you missed the previous message.
Prior to European settlement, wetlands covered about one-quarter of Indiana’s land area. Most of our wetlands were drained for agriculture or to build our cities and towns, leaving less than 15% of the original wetlands acreage. Wetlands reduce flooding, purify rivers and lakes, and provide irreplaceable habitat for fish and wildlife, including ducks, herons and cranes, beaver, river otters, turtles, and frogs. Of Indiana’s 144 species of greatest conservation need, 86 occur in wetlands.
In 2003, the legislature recognized the value of preserving the remaining wetlands and adopted Indiana’s Isolated Wetlands Law.
SB 229 exempts those who *reconstruct* drains — open ditches or field tiles in rural, urban, or suburban Indiana — from obtaining a state wetlands permit. The legal definition of ‘drain reconstruction’ includes widening, deepening, or re-routing such drains; in other words, large-scale work that could destroy wetlands. Current law doesn’t prohibit reconstruction; it just requires projects to go through the permitting process to preserve as much wetland area as possible.
SB 229 is problematic because it:
– opens a broad exemption that will hurt our remaining wetlands
– contains a key provision which is undefined
– creates regulatory confusion with federal wetlands
– creates the need for more Army Corps of Engineers involvement
The bill was opposed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the state agency charged with implementing the isolated wetlands law.
According to Purdue scientists, Indiana now receives 6.5 inches more precipitation per year than it did when data were first recorded in the 1890s. Forested wetlands are the best absorbers of rainfall. Isolated forested wetlands are some of the rarest habitats left in Indiana. IDEM’s fining of the Hamilton County Surveyor for destroying an isolated forested wetland without a permit led to SB 229’s passage by the Legislature. SB 229 throws out sound public policy to control flooding and conserve our natural heritage. Governor Holcomb is THE decisionmaker who can stop this travesty, but he needs to hear from you NOW to do so.
IFA appreciates Hoosier Environmental Council’s work to stop this legislation.
Jeff Stant, Executive Director