The Walker Conservation
During his first legislative session, Scott Walker proved to be the most anti-conservation Governor in Wisconsin’s history. From air to water and land to wildlife, Governor Walker left no stone unturned, desecrating the things that make Wisconsin a great place to live, play, and work. The Walker Conservation Failure Files detail his many conservation failures.
File IV: Wetlands Fail
Wetlands prevent floods, purify water, bolster the tourism economy, and provide critical wildlife habitat. But why protect all of that goodness when there are parking lots to build? At least, that’s what Governor Walker and his campaign contributors figured when they passed detrimental wetland bills this past session that endanger our health, our sporting opportunities, and our basements.
Over the last 150 years Wisconsin has lost 5 million acres of its wetlands (nearly half!) to construction and agriculture.1 Without these wetlands, Wisconsin residents face a number of bleak scenarios:
The first bill cooked up by Walker (SS-SB-10/SS AB 10) created an exemption to wetland protections in the Village of Ashwaubenon for the benefit of a single developer,4 who happens to be a campaign contributor to Governor Walker.5
The next bill (SB 368 & AB 463) went much further, completely reversing the carefully crafted rules that protect Wisconsin’s wetlands, rivers, and lakes.6 One of the biggest problems with the bill is its primary support of “mitigation.”
Here’s the thing about wetland mitigation.
It doesn’t always work.
Wetland mitigation requires that there be no “net loss” of wetlands statewide. So even if the restoration of a destroyed wetland happened 400 miles away, the wetland mitigation standard is satisfied. Filled a wetland in Superior? Just build a new one in Kenosha. As long as this flawless Walker logic is in place, home and business owners across the state won’t be able to rest easy.
What if the rest of the world operated on the same proposition? It would be like going in for heart surgery and waking up to find your heart sewn to the bottom of your foot. Sure, there’s no “net loss” of your heart, but don’t you think everything would work a whole lot better if your heart was back where it was supposed to be?
Walker listened to campaign contributors instead of voters. In a recent poll, 69% of Wisconsin voters said they opposed weakening our wetlands laws.7 But instead of listening to the majority, Walker decided to listen to one of his biggest campaign supporters, the Wisconsin Realtors Association. Their PAC, which contributed $43,000 to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign,8 pushed hard for wetland rollback legislation and was generously rewarded at our expense.9
Walker has failed Wisconsin- the voters, our natural resources, and our health and safety. It’s time for a Governor that appreciates those things that make Wisconsin great—our wetlands, lakes, and rivers—and makes our health and safety a priority. Stay tuned for more from the Walker Conservation Failure Files.