by Tony Owens, NRCM Board President
I am Tony Owens from Cape Elizabeth. Thank you for taking my testimony.
Although my professional career has been that of an emergency physician, my avocation has been that of an outdoorsman. I daily walk and paddle southern Maine’s local wetlands, both salt and fresh water. Casting for striped bass, hunting ducks and geese, or watching the many birds that feed, rest and breed in our wetlands has become a valued part of my daily time out of doors.
With over half of our nation’s original wetlands lost to degradation and development and continued loss at an estimated annual rate of 60,000 acres, Maine has again stood out with forward looking, sensible regulation to protect our valuable wetlands. This value is real and tangible, estimated to result in over 1.3 billion dollars in economic activity through recreational use.
Because of our geology, about 70% of our our important waterfowl wetlands are categorized as “moderate” value, primarily due to their size. They are none the less of critical importance in the maintenance the overall biologic integrity of wetland habitats.
The proposed permit by rule changes poses an unreasonable threat to this already productive economic resource. In the last five years, all of DEP’s individual permit applications have been approved. This hasn’t been an impediment to development, but expansion of the permit by rule process to include large scale development, poses an unacceptable threat to moderate value wetlands that I and many others enjoy at great economic value to the State and our local communities.
In summary, I strongly encourage you to revise the DEP’s RBP proposal to apply only to single family homes.