Wetlands paradigm shift

Author: Reed Hopper

The constant drum beat in the media and among environmental activists is that the Clean Water Act is our best and only hope to save the Nation's wetlands from destruction.  Therefore, the Act must be “strengthened” to provide more federal command and control over private property.  But as with much conventional wisdom, “it just ain’t so.”

According to the federal Council on Environmental Quality, the Clean Water Act plays a paltry role in wetland protection compared to the voluntary efforts of landowners:

“During the past three years, more than 260,000 permit applications were processed [under the Clean Water Act] requiring applicants to avoid impacts to more than 21,000 acres of wetlands, and maintaining a ratio of more than two acres of mitigation for every acre of permitted impacts to wetlands.” —Conserving America’s Wetlands 2008: Four Years of Partnering Resulted in Accomplishing the President's Goal

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture just issued a press release tauting unprecedented enrollment in voluntary efforts to protect and restore the Nation's wetlands:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the nation's farmers, ranchers and Indian Tribes enrolled over 272,000 acres in the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) in fiscal year (FY) 2010. The FY 2010 enrollment is the highest single-year enrollment in the program's history and is a 52 percent increase over FY 2009 when 179,000 acres were enrolled. There are now more than 2.3 million acres enrolled in WRP nationwide…. Through this program, marginal farm or ranchland is restored to its natural state. Potential flood damage to farms and ranches is reduced and vital wetland ecosystems are restored and protected.

Read the entire document.  It will help put things in perspective.