Larson weighs in on wetlands case
on Supreme Court docket
Hartman Cohen, News Office staff
oseph S. Larson, professor emeritus and former director of The Environmental
Institute, is one of 18 nationally known wetland scientists to participate
in a friend-of-the court brief for a case that will be heard next
month before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The brief is
in support of the Army Corps of Engineers which, under the federal
Clean Water Act, denied permission to the Solid Waste Agency of
Northern Cook County, Ill., to put a waste-disposal landfill on
a site containing 21 acres of ponds. The Solid Waste Agency is challenging
the right of the Corps to regulate so-called "isolated"
wetlands that are not directly adjacent to ponds and streams with
surface outlets to navigable waters.
Larson and the
group of scientists support the decision of the Corps to regulate
these wetlands because, in many cases, wetlands are connected to
navigable water systems through groundwater connections. In a brief
written by the non-profit organization Environmental Defense, the
scientists point out that isolated wetlands provide critical habitat
to endangered and migratory wildlife. Furthermore, when these wetlands
are filled or drained, water and pollutants they normally capture
will run overland to ponds and streams, thus contributing to stream
flooding and reduced water quality.
Larson is a nationally
known expert on functions and values of freshwater wetlands. The
Pelham resident received the Chevron Conservation Award in 1990
and was named Conservationist of the Year in 1997 by the Massachusetts
Wildlife Federation. He received bachelor's and master's degrees
from UMass, and a Ph.D. in zoology from the Virginia Polytechnic
serves as the endangered species habitat expert on the state's Fisheries
and Wildlife Board, and is on the advisory committee for the state's
Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.