Wisconsin counties have broad authority to control land uses and protect natural resources, but many defer to state and federal agencies on wetland development decisions. Without active local involvement, decisions affecting wetlands can be inconsistent with community-established goals and priorities.
To improve the consideration of wetlands in local land use decision-making, the Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA) developed a series of field-based workshops for planning and zoning staff. Planning and zoning staff learn how to consider the wetland and watershed contexts of development proposals and to protect the valuable functions of wetlands in their communities and across the Mississippi River Basin.
Through nine workshops so far, WWA has trained 160 individuals from nearly 50 counties along with staff from other institutions such as cities, tribes, regional planning commissions, land trusts, and watershed groups. Participants have strongly praised these workshops and have asked for further wetland-related training opportunities.
Feedback shows that the workshops improve participants’ abilities to:
- recognize wetlands (100% of respondents)
- incorporate wetlands in planning documents (81%)
- update ordinances to better protect wetlands (67%)
Outside of these workshops, planning and zoning staff have minimal access to wetland training. McKnight is working with Wisconsin Wetlands Association to deliver the message of why wetlands matter to communities across Wisconsin. Without this information, our communities are ill-equipped to properly protect and care for their wetlands, and ultimately, the health of the Mississippi River Basin.
Wisconsin Wetlands Association was established in 1969 to protect the state’s wetland resources through education, training, advocacy, and research on key issues that affect wetlands. More than 1,450 members include wetland scientists and educators, conservationists, hunters, concerned citizens, and local and regional organizations. WWA receives general operating support from McKnight’s Mississippi River program for their work in protecting wetlands along the Mississippi and its tributaries.