Here is why mitigation does not work / Facebook post, Whatcom Hawk, Wendy Harris

housing boom

February 25 at 4:02am Wendy Harris

“By consolidating small ‘isolated’ wetlands into one central, large mass has proven over time to preserve wetland integrity by reducing outside impacts. Think of it as reducing the amount of perimeter exposed.”

I do not know if this person believes this, or is lying, and which one is worse? At any rate, it is completely untrue. But here is why mitigation does not work and things do not improve. And Ferndale is joined by the other cities and the county in gaming the system. The only ones who benefit from a large consolidated wetland are the developers who get to do things cheaper. This is not best available science and it continues to destroy ecological function.

Big detention ponds, which is what we are really talking about, have little conservation value and are usually built in areas of dense housing and development, without consideration of surrounding land use patterns and intensity of use, connectivity with other habitat and corridors, the need for proper buffers, minimum habitat patch sizes for species (and they need to do an analysis to know what species are present), the type and amount of land cover, proximity to deadly roads, and a host of other important issues that are ignored because they do not care about anything but build, build, build.

A very recent EPA review of hundreds of studies concluded that those “isolated” wetlands are often not really isolated at all when you consider ground water flow and topography and host of other facts that generally make these small, disconnected wetlands of high importance to stream flow, water quality and habitat value. That is why a landscape based ecosystem approach, that requires a functional analysis referred to as a characterization, is the only way to know which wetlands can be filled and which ones play important roles in maintaining ecosystem integrity. This requires a level of understanding, and a commitment of time and resources, that the cities and government and the developers are not willing to expend.

Tell me again why we so eager to build and grow? You might as well go flush your money down a drain, which backs up your septic system, which overflows into a creek. That is the functional equivalent of mitigation, and it probably costs less to repair.

Read Wendy’s post in the Whatcom Hawk Facebook group here.

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