Before each two-year legislative cycle, we take the time to reflect on recent accomplishments and lay the groundwork for new campaigns.
We’re pleased to present our 2023-2024 policy priorities below. The list doesn’t include everything we anticipate working on in the next two years, but it does reflect the high impact opportunities we’ve identified as ripe for action. It includes a mix of legislative, agency, and local government initiatives. This multi-tiered approach helps demonstrate what successful local wetland conservation looks like while also building the supports needed to accelerate its implementation.
2023-2024 Policy Priorities
1. Advance wetland-flood resilience legislation – This session we will work to help establish a pre-disaster mitigation grant program to enable flood-prone communities to assess the root causes of flooding and restore wetland, stream, and floodplain hydrology to reduce flood risks.
2. Support use of Natural Flood Management (NFM) to protect vulnerable roads, culverts, and bridges – As we wrap up Phase 1 of the NFM pilot project in Ashland County we are working to support local adoption of NFM policies and practices focused on protecting transportation infrastructure. We are also exploring opportunities to export this work to new communities.
3. Support establishment of a new hydrologic restoration general permit – We remain engaged in the work to develop this permit following passage of 2021 Act 77. Efforts include serving on a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources advisory group, providing drafting assistance, and supporting training and outreach activities to build demand for General Permit-eligible wetland, stream, and floodplain restoration work.
4. Increase integration of stream and wetland practices for runoff management – With support from a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) hired WWA to provide policy analysis to inform updates to the state’s runoff management program rules (ATCP 50). We are also helping to plan and deliver related trainings for DATCP’s Conservation Engineering staff and county land conservation departments.
5. Focus on floodplain restoration – Healthy, connected floodplains reduce flooding, improve water quality, and enhance habitat, but floodplain restoration can be challenging. We are working with partners and members to identify and advance state-based reforms to reduce the time and expense associated with floodplain restoration.
As we did for prior sessions, we will provide progress updates on these priorities throughout the year. We also invite your participation in these campaigns. To get involved, subscribe to our emails, like us on Facebook, or contact a member of our policy staff for more details on how you can help!
Finding the right projects and practices to implement watershed-based hydrologic restoration
So you’ve decided hydrologic restoration can help solve challenges in your watershed and want to get started. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just consulting a restoration handbook. The key to finding the right projects and practices is working with an interdisciplinary team. But how do you build the right team, and what does this team’s work look like in practice?
Developing a shared understanding of watershed-based hydrologic restoration
Watershed-based hydrologic restoration is one of the most effective and important ways to address water management concerns in Wisconsin, however its practice is not yet widespread in our state.
Proposed legislation moves Assured Delineator Program from pilot to permanent
Assured delineators must meet rigorous education, training, and experience standards, and wetland delineation reports by assured delineators do not require concurrence through an onsite verification by the WDNR.