Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 95 E300
Location: Inside my head
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 392 Post(s)
USACE strike back!
Extraordinarily short-sighted, bad idea. Who's? The Corps, of course!
Corps rewrites proposal on easing limits on wetlands development
GULFPORT, Miss. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has rewritten a proposal to ease restrictions on development in Gulf Coast wetlands and has posted the plan for public comment.
An initial proposal in October for the Mississippi Gulf Coast's federally protected wetlands drew fire from critics who said it would leave a region hit hard by Hurricane Katrina even more vulnerable to flooding from another storm.
The initial plan would have allowed developers to fill in up to five acres of "low quality" wetlands in south Mississippi without an individual permit from the corps for each project. The proposal, which does not affect wetlands in neighboring Louisiana and Alabama, also would eliminate a requirement that the public must be notified of such development plans.
In its revised plan, the corps has tightened the type and size of wetland fills that would be allowed.
The corps is now recommending that up to three acres of wetlands can be filled under the streamlined permit for residential and institutional buildings like fire houses, government offices and places of worship. The new process would apply to the six Mississippi coastal counties.
"This revised permit proposal takes into account the many comments and concerns we received from the public, federal, state and local agencies when the regional permit was originally proposed last October," said E. Patrick Robbins, a corps spokesman.
Robbins said additional exclusion areas have been added, the focus has been confined to residential and institutional development, and federal and state agencies' review periods have been added.
Certain areas have been excluded from development under the general permit, including the entire Turkey Creek watershed.
Cynthia Ramseur, a compatible development specialist at Ocean Springs' Eco-Logic Restoration Services, was happy to hear that the Turkey Creek area had been removed after concerted community efforts to protect the remaining wetlands in the flood-prone area. Wetlands serve the area by absorbing floodwaters and filtering pollutants out of groundwater.
"But if you are going to remove one impaired water body, why not remove them all?" she said.
Robbins said the permit will not lead to a free-for-all for developers.
"The corps has several nationwide permits and regional general permits already in place," Robbins said. "They don't alleviate the need for an applicant to follow the rules and regulations."