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STATE CALLS PROPOSED FEDERAL WETLANDS MANUAL FLAWED AND UNUSABLE

STATE CALLS PROPOSED FEDERAL WETLANDS MANUAL FLAWED AND UNUSABLE
 OLYMPIA, Wash., Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Washington state officials have told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the proposed 1991 federal wetlands manual is flawed and would be unusable for the state of Washington.
 In a letter to EPA, six state agency directors said proposed revisions to the manual "contain many serious deficiencies." The letter added, the proposed manual is "more difficult to understand, more time consuming to implement and virtually impossible to enforce."
 The manual is used by federal and state regulators for any project involving work in wetlands that requires a federal permit.
 The state response was based on field testing of the manual by an inter-agency team of regional wetland scientists and an assessment of National Wetland Inventory maps.
 Field tests of 22 various known state wetland sites found only four could be confirmed as wetlands. Eighteen sites (82 percent) would not be considered wetlands under the 1991 manual.
 According to the map assessment, 60 to 80 percent of all the state's wetlands would be eliminated from regulatory control under federal Clean Water Act requirements.
 "The proposed 1991 wetlands manual is seriously flawed," said Department of Ecology director Chris Gregoire. "The field testing revealed that most wetlands, including some of the most easy to recognize and many of our most valuable wetlands, would be excluded."
 Gregoire added that the proposed manual would confuse the public, cause time delays and increase costs for project applicants.
 In addition to Gregoire, the letter was signed by Chuck Clarke, Department of Community Development, Duane Berentson, Transportation, Curt Smitch, Wildlife, Joseph Blum, Fisheries, and Nancy McKay, Puget Sound Water Quality Authority.
 The state officials have called for the federal government to take a totally different approach in developing the 1991 wetlands manual.
 "The appropriate wetlands experts have not been adequately involved and the concerns of the states have not been addressed. Wetlands technical experts should be closely involved in identifying areas of concern, analyzing options and proposing revisions where needed," the letter stated.
 They added, "We recommend that adoption of the revised manual be postponed and any needed revisions to the 1989 manual be developed by a panel of wetland experts followed by an open public review process that involves all interested groups."
 -0- 12/16/91
 /CONTACT: Mary Burg, 206-459-6790 or Ron Holcomb, 206-459-6149 both of Washington State Dept. of Ecology/ CO: Washington State Dept. of Ecology ST: Washington IN: SU:


DB -- SE016 -- 2733 12/16/91 18:01 EST
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Date:Dec 16, 1991
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