Jan 21, 2008

Maine bill would disappear "vernal pools" from state law.

With the Maine legislature shifting into gear , it is time to track those bills, good and bad, that will this year go under the hammer of the committee chairs of the Marine Resources Committee, Natural Resources Committee, and Environment Committee.

Let's start with one that representative Ted Koffman introduced. (He was one of the people who pushed the incinerator legislation last round.)

The bill is LD 1952. "An Act To Streamline the Administration of Significant Vernal Pool
Habitat Protection."

Streamline indeed, for it proposes we delete the very mention of "Significant vernal pool habitat" from our state law defining "significant wildlife habitat".

Eliminating it from the list of habitat types that Maine DEP and Maine DIF&W must protect, leaves it vulnerable to the "development community" of landsharks prowling Maine's natural areas, seeking land to pounce upon and snap up, to later excrete as condos, big boxes and dumps upon our environment, leaves only the following two on that list:

(2) High and moderate value waterfowl and wading bird habitat, including
nesting and feeding areas; and
(3) Shorebird nesting, feeding and staging areas.

Those two are important for our feathered friends living in our wide open environments: shores and open shallows. The (1) that Koffman's bill would remove is likewise important, only for the forest in-dwelling animals, a completely different set of birds, amphibians, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates.

Why eliminate the pools?...does that mean that our vernal pools, those incredible pocket waterbodies that appear, disappear and reappear in the woods,the cycle of wet and dry providing a unique two-tone environment for forest amphibians to hatch, spend their childhoods, then "drybernate" (like hibernate in winter cold, only done in the heat season, when the pools temporarily dries up), does it means these habitats are so common, already so protected, that they needn't be protected at all? Or so extinct they need be considered no more?

Not hardly. Nor likely.

According to the state's bill summary, LD 1952
"...narrows the requirement for notification concerning significant
wildlife habitats from those listed in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title
38, section 480-B, subsection 10, paragraph B to those listed in section
480-B, subsection 10, paragraph B, subparagraphs (2) and (3), thereby
removing vernal pools from the operation of that notification statute."

Here's that statute. The bill proposes to snip Section1 from the law.
from http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/38/title38sec480-B.html

B. Except for solely forest management activities, for which "significant
wildlife habitat" is as defined and mapped in accordance with section
480-I by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the following
areas that are defined by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
and are in conformance with criteria adopted by the Department of
Environmental Protection or are within any other protected natural

(1) Significant vernal pool habitat;
(2) High and moderate value waterfowl and wading bird habitat, including
nesting and feeding areas; and
(3) Shorebird nesting, feeding and staging areas.

Doesn't sound like a smart thing at all. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hear there's a dvd coming out to educate people on the vernal pool law and what not. I'll be looking for it.