Category: News

On Thursday, March 22, Ohio Governor John Kasich’s administration — after years of resistance on behalf of agriculture — announced it will declare the open waters of western Lake Erie as impaired, marking a reversal on what has been northwest Ohio’s most contentious water-policy issue. Although details of the impairment designation are still to be worked out, it will invariably mean tighter rules for agriculture and others that release nutrients into western Lake Erie tributaries. To find out more about this decision, read the full article in the Toledo Blade.

Category: News

Through a Public Notice released on Feb. 23, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have detailed a new approach for the functional assessment of streams. USACE has developed its Stream and Wetland Valuation Metric (SWVM) for the state of Ohio to provide a method for determining the level of functions and values provided by aquatic resources in Ohio. This release is for the stream portion of the SWVM tool to be used in Ohio. USACE is still developing the wetland SWVM tool for Ohio.  The SWVM tool will be used by permit applicants to evaluate the amount of function and value lost when aquatic resources are impacted.  It will also be utilized as the basis for evaluating the magnitude of improvements associated with compensatory mitigation projects. Previously, impacts to streams and stream mitigation projects were evaluated based on linear feet and credit ratios.

For more information on SWVM, contact Vince Messerly at vmesserly@streamandwetlands.org.

 

Category: News

Dominion Energy is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy. The Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation annually awards up to $1 million through a competitive environmental education and stewardship grants program. Eligible organizations include nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations and public and private K-12 schools in communities served by Dominion Energy companies. The Foundation considers grant requests up to $25,000 that focus on specific, short-term projects that promise measurable results to improve the environment, and K-12 requests up to $5,000.

Eligible organizations in Ohio, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and other areas within Dominion Energy’s footprint, can submit applications through Feb. 26, 2018. Recipients will be announced in April.

For more information about this unique education and stewardship grant program, check out their website here.

Category: News

On Jan. 22, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision regarding which federal courts have jurisdiction to hear challenges to the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The WOTUS rule, which defines the scope of waters protected under the federal Clean Water Act, is a joint rulemaking by the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Supreme Court found that appeals of this rule must be brought in to the federal district courts rather than circuit courts ─ a decision that will finally allow litigation over the rule to move forward.

“The real concern we have with the delay of an update to the WOTUS definition is that the uncertainties associated with the existing regulations will continue to cause unnecessary confusion for permit applicants,” said Vince Messerly, President of Stream + Wetlands Foundation.  “Hopefully, a reasonable WOTUS definition can be achieved soon to help improve predictability for permit applicants and the regulatory agencies.”

To find out more about this recent ruling and its implications on the WOTUS rule, click here.

Category: News

R.D. James, a Kentucky native has been confirmed as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (Head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). In his new role, James will establish policy direction and provide supervision of the Department of the Army functions relating to all aspects of the civil works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Read this article for more information about Mr. James.

Category: News

The National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference (NMEBC) brings members together to advance and protect the environment in a financially sustainable way. This year’s conference is scheduled for May 8-11 in Louisville, Kentucky. Stream + Wetlands’ President Vince Messerly will be serving as the moderator for Session 6 of the conference on Thursday, May 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.  The session, titled “The Farmer, Rancher & Banking” will include the following topics and speakers:

NRCS Wetland Mitigation Banking Program Current Status, Lessons Learned

Shaun T. Vickers, National Wetland Mitigation Specialist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA, Lincoln, Neb.

 Middle-Platte Rainwater Basin Agricultural Mitigation Bank: One Year Later

Karen Caddis, Conservation Planner, Westervelt Ecological Services, Centennial, Colo.

 How Mitigation Banking Became the Lifeblood of Our Farm

Drausin F. Wulsin, Manager, Red Stone Farm, LLC, Hillsboro, OH and Jacob Bartley, Owner, Plum Hill Ecological Services, LLC, Covington, Ky.

For more information, visit the NMEBC website.

 

Category: News

Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Everglades Wetland Research Park in Naples will begin its sixth annual “Moonlight on the Marsh” Distinguished Lecture Series. The free lectures, which begin on Jan. 18 and run through March 15, will explore timely topics including climate change, coastal sustainability and Southwest Florida mangroves and will include five preeminent national and international speakers. Dr. William J. Mitsch, eminent scholar, director of the Everglades Wetland Research Park and friend of the Stream + Wetlands Foundation calls this year’s series “one of our most complete, from top to bottom.”

For more information about this lecture series, visit the FGCU website.

Category: News

In compliance with Executive Order (EO) 13783 “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth”, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released their report on October 25. The EO required federal agencies to review existing regulations that would potentially burden domestic energy resources (oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear resources). The USACE identified Nationwide Permits as a regulation meeting the review requirements of the EO.

Of the 52 nationwide permits that authorize activities under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the agency identified 12 of the 52 nationwide permits that related to domestic energy production. The USACE is recommending changes to nine of those 12 nationwide permits to reduce burdens on domestic energy producers.

To find out more, read the entire press release here.

Category: News

The Columbus Dispatch recently ran an editorial about S+W’s research project which is being led by Ohio State University professor emeritus Dr. William Mitsch. “Wetlands could fix pollution from farms” discusses Mitsch’s research to temporarily re-establish wetlands in farm fields to reduce algae blooms. Read more about this unique research project here.

Category: News

On May 18, in conjunction with American Wetlands month and the 2017 National Wetlands Awards, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) hosted a panel of experts to discuss the future of the mitigation industry. S+W President Vince Messerly participated in the discussion. ELI captured the entire transcript of the discussion and a copy of the PDF is available here.