In the Aug. 7 letter “ Facts a casualty in attacks,” DENR officials Mitch Gillespie and Michael Ellison defended the undermining of the state’s stream buffer rules as duly adopted by the N.C. Environmental Management Commission last year.
The DENR officials’ justification is that, “The group that wrote the original rule update did not include anyone who actually implements mitigation projects.”
As a former supervisor within the Division of Water Quality, I was charged with organizing and conducting the original stakeholder group that assisted division staff in preparing these rules. In fact, the stakeholder group included members of the development community, agricultural community, mining industry, environmental community, local governments and, yes, mitigation providers.
The group met four times in 2009 and 2010 and had extensive discussions concerning the draft rules and offered many suggestions to improve them. The mitigation providers who were active participants in the stakeholder process and are still implementing successful mitigation projects statewide include Restoration Systems, EBX, Earthmark, the N.C. Department of Transportation and the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program (now headed by Michael Ellison) as well as several private consultants who design mitigation projects.
For DENR to now claim that the original stakeholder group “did not include anyone who actually implements mitigation projects” is an insult to all the hard work done by that group.
John Dorney, Retired supervisor, N.C. Division of Water Quality, Durham