Washington wetlands remain protected despite Supreme Court ruling

Sunday, June 11, 2023

A wetland in Anacortes’ Fidalgo Bay on the site of a former plywood mill. A new Supreme Court decision affects the regulation of wetlands nationwide. Photo courtesy of the state Department of Ecology

A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court limited the ability of the federal Environmental Protection Agency to steward wetlands across the country. But state officials are confident that it will do no harm to Washington wetlands. State laws protecting wetlands have always been stronger than federal regulations, and they will continue to be.

“Wetlands are critical for protecting water quality, reducing the impacts of flooding, and providing safe havens for endangered and threatened species,” said Laura Watson, director of the state Department of Ecology. 
“It’s important for people in Washington to know that state laws continue to provide the review and oversight needed to evaluate the impacts of proposed development.”

Wetlands, seasonal streams, and other waters in Washington remain protected. Ecology cautions that developers still must earn state approval before to beginning work that could affect these waters.

“We understand that development is necessary,” said Ecology expert Joenne McGerr. “But if that work will affect ecologically important areas, we need to understand the potential impacts and what the mitigation options are before giving the go ahead.”

In response to this regulatory change, Ecology will conduct independent assessments for wetlands and other waters no longer within federal protection. The department expects a significant workload increase, and will soon begin to hire additional staff and expand resources to review development proposals.


Anonymous,  June 11, 2023 at 7:41 PM  

If they really believed this wetland a protected, then why do so many water ways and wild animals text positive for meth and other drugs?

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