On Thursday Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed legislation that is severely detrimental to the wetland habitats across the state.
Ducks Unlimited, and all those who value clean water and healthy habitat, are disappointed by this rollback of wetland protections. This policy setback only strengthens our resolve to meet our conservation mission, and we need the support of all DU members.
SB 389 started as a full repeal of all protections for Indiana’s isolated wetlands, estimated to total more than 600,000 acres. As result of advocacy and engagement by numerous organizations including Ducks Unlimited, trade associations, local governments and others, SB 389 was narrowed to only impact protections of Class 1 wetlands, among other policy changes.
Class 1 wetlands are those previously altered or degraded as result of human disturbance or are dominated by invasive species and provide minimal wildlife value. Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management estimates that as much as 425,000 acres of Indiana wetlands could be considered Class 1.
This staggering loss could have been worse if not for the voices of DU supporters and outdoors enthusiasts. And while the new law will impact some of Indiana’s wetland resources, it does contain an opportunity to improve the future for wetlands in Indiana.
The law establishes the Indiana Wetlands Task Force. As the leader in wetlands conservation, Ducks Unlimited will serve on the Indiana Wetlands Task Force and help shape the future of wetlands conservation in Indiana. The task force is charged with researching and developing recommendations to further improve Indiana’s wetland permitting program along with the associated wetland mitigation requirements. The task force will also review existing isolated wetland classifications and recommend new classifications that are in alignment with those used by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Furthermore, the Task Force has been asked to develop strategies to incentivize the avoidance of isolated wetland impact during development and to incentivize the preservation of existing isolated wetlands.
Ducks Unlimited is confident that through a commitment to working collaboratively as part of the new Indiana Wetlands Task Force, as well as through maintaining good relationships with elected officials, we will be in an even stronger position in the future to advise on Indiana’s wetland protection policies for the betterment of all Hoosiers.
Thank you for your support.