Also coming to light last week was an amendment to the omnibus legislation HB 490 that is intended to define the meaning of “adverse impact” in such a way that likely threatens both the health of Lake Erie’s waters and the implementation of the Great Lakes Compact. Time for another letter, the text of which is below:
Ohio House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources
SUB. H.B. 490
November 14, 2014
Chairman Hall, Vice Chair Thompson, Ranking Member Cera, and Members of the Committee: My name is Matt Misicka and I am the Vice President of the Ohio Conservation Federation.
On behalf of the Ohio Conservation Federation (OCF) and the thousands of Ohio sportsmen and women that its members Buckeye Big Bucks Club, Buckeye Firearms Association, Ducks Unlimited, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, National Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ohio State Trappers Association, and Pheasants Forever represent, I am writing to you today to express our concerns regarding proposed amendments to HB 490 that define “significant adverse impact” in such a way that threatens the productivity of Lake Erie, the safety of public drinking water, and the validity of the Great Lakes Compact approved by Ohio and ratified by Congress in 2008.
Maintaining the health of Lake Erie is vital to Ohio’s economy. Whether it is safe guarding the walleye and perch that so many of us love to pursue and the livelihoods of charter boat captains and crews, or protecting the western basin’s marshes that provide essential habitat for the ducks that waterfowlers and their guides hunt from one end of the state to the other.
The new proposed language is in direct conflict with the compact requirements in that it measures only the physical impact of withdraws without considering impacts to water chemistry (concentration of pollutants such as phosphorus) or wildlife.
OCF is supportive of the changes recommended by a diverse group of conservation-minded organizations including Ducks Unlimited and National Wildlife Federation. These groups have suggested the following language intended to scientifically evaluate the impacts of withdraws: striking lines 4524-4537 and 4557-4576 and replacing lines 4557-4576 with the following language:
(a) Significant impacts to an important function of the ecosystem of the source watershed shall include, but not limited to, the following:
(i) Interruption of a primary spawning area of a threatened or endangered species of fish;
(ii) Significant loss of productivity or habitat of a characteristic sport fish or commercial fish species in a direct tributary;
(iii) Impairment of the chemistry, sediment, temperature, or flow dynamics in the river mouth of a tributary such that one or more of the significant habitat functions of habitats on or near the lake shore are materially impaired;
(iv) Lowering of water levels in a tributary to a point that interferes with commercial navigation in a port.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony regarding our concerns with HB 490 and the future of Lake Erie. The Ohio Conservation Federation stands ready to assist Members of this Committee, the Department of Natural Resources, the Governor, and related stakeholders in finding common ground on these issues. Protecting Lake Erie, its tributaries, and surrounding communities is essential to the health of our wildlife, economy, and hunting, angling, and trapping heritage.
Ohio Conservation Federation