Kansas Wildlife Federation

Thursday, May 20 2004

Jail Time for Filling in Wetlands?

This story from the New York Times has shown up on various websites: a Michigan man faces federal prison for filling in wetlands.

Is it outrageous that this man faces more jail time than some drug dealers? Or that a non-violent first-time offender is looking at a five-year sentence?

Possibly. On the other hand, if he’d constructed a dam illegally, depriving his downstream neighbors of water they had a right to, he’d be prosecuted and no one would be at all surprised. If he’d killed 40 ducks out of season without a permit, he’d get prosecuted, and again, no one would be surprised. By filling in seasonal wetlands, he’s harming wildlife and water quality, but because it’s water we can’t see, some people get baffled and up in arms.

One of the ways we can fix the West’s water shortage is to treat groundwater as carefully as we do surface water.

+ Dan @ 02:54pm


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