Our new Parish President Pat Brister and several Parish Council members recently met with legislators on Capitol Hill to discuss regulations governing our wetlands. The US Army Corps of Engineers is the entity that enforces regulations regarding Louisiana’s wetlands. When development is proposed in a wetlands area, the developer is required to pay a mitigation fee that is used to preserve other wetland areas. We know the importance of wetlands to public safety and to our economy, but at the same time, mitigation fees have gone up very steeply. Last year, St. Tammany Parish paid over $2 million in mitigation fees for capital projects.
Our parish leaders proposed a relatively simple plan to work as a community, based on input received through public meetings and through the scientific community, to identify wetlands that are critical for flood relief, storm protection and natural habitat. Then, take the identified critical areas to the Corps to gain consensus and jointly develop a plan to preserve and enhance these wetlands. To fund the preservation of wetlands critical to St. Tammany, the parish would keep the mitigation funds we are already paying and use them as the funding source for the identified properties.
For more information, read a recent Times-Picayune article on how this has affected growth in St. Tammany Parish.
To read more about the Mossy Hill Mitigation Bank that serves St. Tammany Parish, visit their website.