Monday, May 31, 2010

Training of wetlands agency members: Unfinished Business, Part II

Maybe some of you don't see the need for me blathering on about wetlands training. If a majority of members of every wetlands agency had completed the DEP comprehensive training and a majority of members of every wetlands agency regularly attended Segment II of the DEP training or the case law and legislative review offered at the CACIWC annual meeting, training could be a non-issue. Training is still an issue for a couple of reasons.

The Council on Environmental Quality produced a special report Swamped: Cities, Towns, the Connecticut DEP and the Conservation of Inland Wetlands, in 2008. During the period of 2000 through 2006 thirty-seven towns had no member who completed the annual comprehensive DEP training. The CEQ report notes a correlation between higher training and higher protection afforded wetlands (fewer acres of wetlands impact allowed).

Recently The Connecticut Mirror featured a special article by Matthew L. Brown which highlighted the unresolved problem of lack of wetlands agency training. Brown contacted an official in one of the towns noted in the 2008 CEQ report as not having any trained members. Brown spoke to Richard Matters, the First Selectman in Franklin, inquiring about the current status of trained members. Mr. Matters believes the town is still be on the list for no trained members. He cited the difficulty to get people to serve, although Brown noted there are no vacancies on the wetlands agency.

Those are the reasons that training is still an issue.

Is there anyone who thinks agencies which fail over a significant period of time to meet the training requirement -- one trained member -- are qualified to administer the wetlands act?

Is there anyone out there who would like to go before an agency with no trained members?

I invite you to send suggestions to improve the statistics on training, whether they involve amending the wetlands act or changing the means of training. I am happy to continue to receive comments directly to me at my e-mail address ( Thanks to all of you who send me comments, and thanks to Attorney Matt Berger of New London who pointed me in the direction of The Connecticut Mirror article. However, I also invite anyone to submit comments on the blog. (At the end of each entry is a notation of "0 comments." If you click on comments, you are able to send your comment.)

I will use any comments I receive to open a dialogue and seek further comments. I am happy to float your ideas without attribution, if you prefer anonymity. The CEQ has noted its intention of proposing legislative language for the 2011 session. As a member of CEQ, I would like to have a sense of the possible "carrots" and "sticks" to be employed.

In the next entry I will start with some of my suggestions, some benign, some severe. And thank you for the comment I have already received wondering why the DEP training DVD isn't on its website. I will ask DEP and report back.

No comments: