GOP lawmakers propose bill shrinking natural resource areas

Republican lawmakers are circulating a bill that would scale back the water bodies that could be designated special natural areas.

Currently, the Department of Natural Resources’ board can designate a number of water bodies as areas of special natural resource interest where construction projects require permits. The types of water bodies include trout streams; surface waters identified as an outstanding or exceptional resource water; waters that contain endangered or threatened species; wild rice waters; wild or scenic rivers; and ecologically significant coastal wetlands.

Under Sen. Frank Lasee and Rep. Adam Jarchow’s bill, the designation could apply only to portions of waters with endangered species, wild rice waters, coastal wetlands and wild or scenic rivers. The Legislature’s budget committee, not the DNR board, would approve designations.