The state Assembly has approved legislation that will allow developers to fill some wetland areas without a permit.
The bill would apply to smaller wetland areas that are under state control – primarily those near urban areas that are under an acre in size and under three acres in rural areas. Republicans contend the changes are needed to simplify a process that can delay development and tack on thousands of dollars in extra costs.
State Representative Nick Milroy (D-South Range) was among Democrats who argued the bill would negatively affect wildlife habitat though. “It’s been said that this is the worst bill for sportsmen in a generation,” he said. “That’s because wetlands are some of the most supportive habitat for fish and wildlife.”
During debate in the Assembly Thursday night, Republican Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) noted many wildlife groups now support the bill or are neutral, after changes were made to ensure quality wetland areas are still protected. “No high quality wetlands will be filled in because of this bill,” he said.
The bill passed on a 58 to 39 vote. It now heads to the state Senate.