07 October 2014

Corps Prevents Public Input on Wetland Plan

A wetland restoration plan being prepared the city of Omaha Public Works Department will not be available for public review, until the document is finalized.

The Army Corps of Engineers is requiring that this public agency be required to prepare the plan as the result of fill being placed in a very small extent of wetlands in association with a holding facility located at 13th and Locust Streets. The procedures of the ACE do not allow any public review, according to staff of this federal agency.

There are several reasons that the public should be allowed to review the restoration plan, prior to it being finalized. They include, but are not limited to:

1) the fill activity was originally reported by the public
2) the wetlands filled are "public waters" as designated by the Clean Water Act; and though the extent is very small, it still did occur and was not permitted
3) the fill activity occurred on public property
4) the fill was done by a city of Omaha agency
5) a restoration project will be paid for by public funds
6) this is the second instance of fill being placed or getting into a protected wetland, in association with Public Works in 2014
7) public input should be an essential aspect of any city of Omaha project

The office of the Mayor of Omaha has been asked to respond to these items (with the list delivered to the mayor's office and public works on October 6th), along with the Corps.

The restoration plan would be available once finalized, through a Freedom of Information Act request.

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