OEC Helps Farmers & Wetlands in Same Case

John and Marilyn Saveson. Photo from Columbus Dispatch.

Wetlands are vital to Ohio's clean water. They filter pollution, prevent flooding, and are home to hundreds of sensitive species like fairy shrimp, frogs, salamanders, turtles, bald eagles, and more!

Shockingly, Ohio's Department of Natural Resources reports that we have lost more than 90% of our natural wetlands - down from 5 million acres to just 400,000 today.

Those that remain are under constant threat from development and pollution. That's why the OEC is fighting to save every remaining acre.

And that's just what we did with John and Marilyn Saveson of Franklin County. 

In 2010 Mr. and Mrs. Saveson called the Natural Resources Conservation Service and asked about enrolling their land in the Wetlands Reserve Program.

Part of the U.S. Farm Bill, the program provides financial and technical assistance to help farmers install wetlands on their property and dedicate them to conservation.

In fact, they called several government agencies to confirm they were following the law and understood the tax implications. As John and Marilyn started constructing the wetland, they had no idea that they were in for a rude surprise.

The next fall, without passing legislation or providing public notice, the Ohio Department of Taxation decided that land like the Savesons' no longer qualified for lower taxes.

Even though they had put their land into protection a year before the department changed its mind, Mr. and Mrs. Saveson were charged penalties and back taxes, receiving a tax bill of more than $56,000!

John and Marilyn were dumbfounded. They wanted so badly to protect these wetlands for future generations. Their ability to do that was seriously in jeopardy.

They knew one thing - they needed legal assistance. John called an attorney who advised him that appealing wouldn't do any good.

That's when the Savesons contacted the Ohio Environmental Council for help.

Our attorneys took on the Savesons' case for free. We argued to the Board of Tax Revision that the tax commissioner improperly interpreted the law and executed a change in policy that denied due process to the Savesons.

With expertise in environmental law and experience navigating the courts, we fought for the wetlands and we won.

This victory:

  • Protects wetlands.
  • Helps farmers and other landowners make wetlands conservation affordable.
  • Helps keep government agencies from changing important policies without public notice. All of this is possible because the Ohio Environmental Council is here to help.

And we're here to help because of our members and supporters.

Despite this victory, wetlands continue to be threatened every day.

Right now, your OEC attorneys are working to protect wetlands across Ohio from development on the Lake Erie shore to coal mining lands in eastern Ohio.

And, we need your help today in the fight to keep the wetlands of the Sawmill Wildlife Education Center permanently protected, as was promised when this unique urban oasis was transferred to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Please help us fight to protect wetlands like these by making tax-deductible donation today!