Wetlands


I just love it when the EPA actually decides to uses its veto power under section 404 of the Clean Water Act.  Holly Doremus at Legal Planet has commentary here.

Today, due to the generosity of contacts at WWF in Hong Kong, we received a tour of Mai Po Nature Reserve in Hong Kong’s New Territories.   Mai Po is a large wetland reserve filled with very cool flora and fauna, and really is a bird lovers’ paradise.  Mai Po is protected by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and our visit was truly a treat.   We saw mangroves, traditional shrimp ponds, fish farms (right outside the reserve), and beautiful flowers, and, with fancy digital binoculars and scopes, saw beautiful birds: spoonbills, herons, egrets, and ducks.

I was a law clerk at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) right after the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (known as SWANCC).  In an interpretation of the Clean Water Act, the case stripped the federal government of its jurisdiction over many wetlands in the United States, leaving them subject to development and fill.  Wisconsin decided to assert state jurisdiction over these wetlands no longer subject to federal jurisdiction, and I helped to play a role drafting the administrative code that implemented the new Wisconsin Statute (2001 WI Act 6).

While Wisonsin has had a fairly progressive tradition in protecting wetlands, the struggle has been in getting other states to protect wetlands.  (See this article.)  My former colleague at WDNR just sent me info on a program from the Wisconsin Wetland Association that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of wetlands.  Called “Wetlands Gems,” they’ve published an awesome book that beautifully identifies and describes that best wetlands in Wisconsin.  I think other states would be smart to compile similar books.

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