Wetlands Overhaul On Governor's Desk
Wetlands are an integral piece of Michigan’s water cycle, and are key to keeping the water flowing into the Great Lakes clean. Some experts explain their role in Michigan’s ecosystem by calling them “nature’s kidneys.” Senate Bill 163 sponsored by Senator Mike Green (R-Marysville) would weaken protections for our state’s wetlands. In turn, Michigan’s wetlands program runs the risk of not being in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, and opens up the possibility of a federal takeover of a program that has been state managed for almost 30 years.
Specifically, SB 163 would overhaul and weaken wetlands protections by:
- Creating more exemptions for development within currently protected wetlands areas
- Allowing woodchips to be used as filler
- Rewriting the definition of contiguous wetlands, which could reduce the amount of land that is defined as a wetland
Why are wetlands so important in Michigan? Wetlands are the areas between land and water that filter water and keep it clean. Additionally, they are home to a variety of flora and fauna that can’t be found in other types of ecosystems. With the amount of freshwater in our state, wetlands are vitally important to keeping it all clean. The Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council is a great wetlands resource, as is the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to a report by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan has lost more than 50% of its original wetlands. We can’t afford to lose any more; and we can’t afford to lose the ability to closely oversee our state’s natural resources. Michigan’s wetlands overhaul is in Governor Snyder’s hands. Send him an email today (Rick.Snyder@michigan.gov) and tell him to veto legislation that would put our wetlands protections up for grabs.
Tracey Kuffel is an intern for Michigan LCV.