A survey commissioned for the National Audubon Society shows most Hoosiers don’t want the state to weaken protections for wetlands — regardless of their political party.
Among other things, wetlands provide habitat for endangered and threatened species, protect communities from flooding, filter out pollution, and store carbon emissions.
Last year lawmakers passed a law to remove protections for about half of all wetland acres in Indiana.
The survey shows more than 60 percent of Indiana residents polled who voted for Trump want the state to maintain its standards to protect wetlands. While more than 70 percent of Biden voters want the state to strengthen them.
Indra Frank with the Hoosier Environmental Council said many Hoosiers contacted the organization and their lawmakers in opposition to the law last year.
“There really wasn't a breadth of support. It was brought by the Builders Association and moved forward by them," Frank said.
Brian Vigue is the policy director for Audubon Great Lakes. He said most respondents in the survey said they would look less favorably upon lawmakers who help pass legislation to weaken protections for wetlands and smaller streams.
“I think that's an important thing for policymakers to notice. This is your constituents, you know, telling you what's important. And, you know, so far the legislation that's been produced doesn't reflect that doesn't reflect that sentiment," he said.
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Indiana has already lost 85 percent of its wetlands. But Vigue said there are creative ways the state can restore wetlands while also allowing for development and agriculture.
Indiana set up a task force to look at the state’s wetland laws and come up with recommendations for legislators. The task force will issue a report on its findings by November of this year.
Indiana environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.