On June 22nd, the Assembly will vote on Senate Bill (SB) 91, which directs the Department of Natural Resources to create a general permit for wetland, stream, and floodplain restoration projects focused on restoring hydrology (the Assembly companion bill is AB 85). This general permit will improve the process to get more healthy wetlands back on the landscape and re-establish connectivity between wetlands, streams, and floodplains.
Degraded conditions plague many wetlands and floodplains in Wisconsin, hindering their ability to store and slow water, two particularly beneficial functions of these ecosystems in the watershed. ‘Wetlands as Solutions,’ is a theme echoed throughout SB 91, with specific mention of their ability to improve flood resilience, upper watershed storage, groundwater infiltration and base flow, water quality, and more. We are glad policymakers are recognizing the importance of wetlands and floodplains by considering SB 91.
An earlier version of this legislation established a Hydrologic Restoration Advisory Council, which was removed through an amendment. Although WWA supported the establishment of the council too, we still support the amended bill for the improvements it will bring to the permitting process.
With 30 cosponsors, it is expected that SB 91 will pass the Assembly with wide bipartisan support, just as it passed the Senate in May. If you are not sure where your state representative stands on SB 91, please call or email and ask them to support it on June 22nd. If you see their name listed below, consider thanking them for supporting this pro-wetland bill! (To find your legislators, you can use the Who Are My Legislators webpage and enter your address in the upper right-hand box.)
Cosponsors of SB 91 / AB 85:
Representatives: Oldenburg (author), Steineke (co-author), Billings, Cabrera, Doyle, Edming, James, Kitchens, Krug, Loudenbeck, B. Meyers, Milroy, Moses, Mursau, Novak, Rozar, Skowronski, Subeck, Tauchen, Thiesfeldt, Tusler, and Spreitzer
Senators: Cowles (author), Bewley, Feyen, Petrowski, Pfaff, Ringhand, Testin, and Wirch
After SB 91 passes the Assembly, it will head to Governor Evers’ desk for his consideration, and we are hoping he will sign it into law. Share your support for SB 91 with Governor Evers here.
When communicating with your legislators, key points to emphasize include:
  • SB 91 authorizes a general permit for activities that reconnect streams and floodplains, reestablish healthy channel conditions, and restore upper watershed wetlands’ capacity to store and slowly release runoff. It also simplifies the permit process, maintains local authorities, and protects the rights of riparian owners and the public’s right to navigable waters.
  • This bill will help communities address challenges like flooding, erosion, sedimentation, polluted run-off, and other water quality problems, by simplifying the permitting process for voluntary, collaborative projects that repair natural hydrology.

Contact WWA Policy Liaison Jennifer Western Hauser at jennifer.westernhauser@wisconsinwetlands.org with questions. 

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