Wednesday, October 8, 2014

BREAKING NEWS ON HB 1565 (the buffer bill) - UPDATE 10-8-14

 from patrout.org
 HB1565 was amended in the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on 10-6. While the amendments improve the bill, HB1565 still falls short of protecting headwaters streams
We all know the value of maintaining appropriate riparian buffers, especially as they affect the quality of our coldwater streams. As currently proposed, HB1565 would substantially alter the existing protection afforded by riparian buffers by allowing their elimination on those streams designated as special protection waters.

HB1565 proposes a "trade off" in the form of an option allowing the elimination of riparian buffers in one portion of a stream as long as an equivalent section is provided for in another section of that same drainage. What this means is that development along headwaters sections of our coldwater streams could eliminate riparian buffers on those waters which are so critical to sustaining a wild trout population.

Update on Amended Bill

On Monday, HB1565 was amended and voted out in the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee. The amendments do two things:
(1)    Clarify that the replacement buffer must occur along special protection waters within the same drainage list (according to chapter 93). This does not mean that the replacement buffer has to be installed on the same stream.
(2)    Attempt to strengthen practices that can be used instead of a buffer, by requiring the alternatives used to be “collectively…substantially equivalent to a riparian buffer…” This section recognizes that riparian buffers are the most effective management tool.

Bottom line: While the amendments improve the bill, HB1565 still falls short of protecting headwaters trout streams.

Please contact your Senator today, and before Oct. 14, and urge him or her to vote NO on House Bill 1565 (P.N.4258) for the following reasons: CLICK HERE TO FIND SENATOR
1.       Although the amendments clarified the bill and made slight improvements, we are still opposed to the bill because it fails to require maintenance of existing riparian buffers in high quality and exceptional value watersheds.  
2.       We currently have a system that requires riparian buffers, but allows for flexibility through waivers and exemptions.  If there is an issue with delays in the waiver process, let’s look for an administrative fix rather try to legislatively fix the problem and as a result allow for existing buffers to be destroyed.
3.       Stress that there are no equivalents to a riparian buffer—these are the best and most effective management tool for protecting streams and we need to protect our best streams (EV and HQ).