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Local Wetlands Protection Workshop Recap

by Dan Crescenzo

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop on wetlands protection hosted by UGA’s Land Conservation Clinic and the UGA River Basin Center, with a diverse panel of accomplished speakers, including Dr. Rhett Jackson of UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Jason O’Kane from the Army Corps of Engineers, and Bill Sapp of the Southern Environmental Law Center.  The workshop focused on the practical implications of the recent Supreme Court Sackett decision.  That decision re-defined the “wetlands” over which the United States has jurisdiction to enforce the Clean Water Act so that now, wetlands which do not have a continuous surface connection with another body of water and no clear demarcation between a waterway and the wetland are no longer federally regulated.  This means that important biodiversity hotspots such as Coastal Plain Depressional Wetlands are no longer protected unless they are covered by state or local government ordinances, over and above federal law, or unless they are conserved with, say, a conservation easement. 

The crux of the presentations was this: We need all hands on deck, now more than ever, to conserve these wetlands that are no longer federally protected. As recently as last year, Oconee River Land Trust protected a property in South Carolina with a Depression Wetland on it, and we will be looking for more opportunities to protect these vulnerable types of wetlands in the coming years.  

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The workshop on wetlands protection sounds incredibly informative. The shift in federal regulations highlights the importance of local and state initiatives to safeguard these critical ecosystems. geometry dash


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