Frack (slurps coffee): Yup. And that means any kind of wetland permit too, ‘cause the state wetland permit requires a fed sign-off.
Frick (confused): So a simple little wetland crossing all of a sudden jumps me into bat hunting?
Frack: Indeed. Not just bat hunting. You have to go looking for roost trees and batty habitat.
Frick: So, wait. What the heck is a roost tree or batty habitat?
Frack: You’ve got me. I heard you need to hire a special bat person to do it. I got a letter from the Army telling me I had to have a “bat study” before they would give me a wetlands okay.
Frick: Wow. Who even does bat studies?
Frack: Only a couple people in New Hampshire. I tried to find somebody, but they are all tied up.
Frick: How much does this damn bat study cost?
Frack: Cheapest I found was five grand! On only twenty acres!
Frick (shaking head): Holy dollar signs, Batman! So hold on. Back up. Cutting trees or affecting wetlands gets you into bat hell? Why is that, anyway?
Frack (laughing ruefully): They said the bat is endangered.
Frick: I may be dense, but I thought bats lived in caves? What does tree cutting have to do with bats?
Frack: I dunno. I thought that white nose fungus is killing the bats. Not the tree cutting.
Frick: I don’t get it either. If this fungus is killing the bats, why are we not allowed to cut trees? Is there some kind of connection between fungus and trees?
Frack (wiping his brow): The feds say we don’t have very many bats due to the fungus, so they are “an endangered species”. So they are trying to save the few left. They are saving the trees as habitat.
Frick (holding his head): Wait! Wait! My head hurts. Let me get this straight. Tree cutting never hurt the bats before, but now, because of the fungus, we can’t cut trees? This makes no sense!
Frack: That’s what US Fish and Wildlife folks say must be done. Like I said, the bats are an endangered species now.
Frick: I have had plenty of bats in my barn! I have had bats in my attic! How did they become endangered species? Isn’t that for things like wolves and mountain lions out west?
Frack (nodding): I thought so too. I heard that our own Senator Ayotte was one of the folks in Washington that helped get the bat on the list.
Frick (shocked): Kelly Ayotte? I voted for her!
Frack: Who didn’t?
Frick: You mean I can’t cut the trees because of Kelly Ayotte?
Frack: I know. I heard she was trying to make it easier for the loggers.
Frick: What about us developers? I can’t even begin my subdivision! And it’s only eight house lots! I wish I had just cut all the trees before I ever applied for the subdivision. It would have saved me a whole lot of time and money!
Frack: I bet that is what folks are going to start doing if they don’t figure this out soon.
Frick (nodding): Yup. I shoulda just filed an ‘intent-to-cut’ and chopped all the trees down! Then applied for the subdivision with the wetland crossing.
Frack: Folks will start doing that. Tell people they can’t even cut trees on their own land and see where that gets you!
Obviously, this was a made-up conversation, and I used hyperbole to make the point. However, it illustrates the frustration and confusion that is currently surrounding the bat issue. Certainly, the protection of the northern long-eared bat from extinction is a laudable endeavor. However, the moratorium being placed upon tree cutting and the jurisdiction being imposed by the federal regulatory agencies is not taking into consideration the financial and economic impact of their actions.
We have not yet recovered from the recession. This new regulatory issue has virtually stopped developments that have wetland impacts.
Bottom line? Avoid all wetland impacts. Then maybe you can avoid the bat issue, and the life won’t get sucked out of your project.
“In My View” is an opinion article that will be emailed and posted once a month. It is my view of wetland and other environmental issues that will or may affect your business or organization. It will sometimes give you updates on new rules or legislation that has recently passed. In other cases, I will discuss legislation that is “in the works” at our state capital. As the name would imply, it is my view of what this rule, legislation or change means to you. I am constantly meeting with clients, friends and local regulatory officials who are asking me what this rule means or what that piece of legislation does. For that reason, I am sending this out to associates of GES who might care to have this information. I will not be political, but I do reserve the right to be opinionated. If you do not wish to receive further articles, let us know by a “reply to”, and we will delete your name. If you know of someone who might want to receive future articles, just send this on to them and copy us. We will add them to the distribution list. If in the coming months there is a topic, law, rule or regulation that you would like me to discuss, let us know. If I feel that I am competent to say something about it, I will discuss it in the future.
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