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E-M:/ Drain Code Action Alert



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Enviro-Mich message from MUCC <mucc@mucc.org>
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Drain Code Action Alert

The Drain Code is a statute that governs the activities of County Drain
Commissioners.  Its roots extend back into the 1800's when it was used
to drain wet lands in order to produce lands suitable for agriculture
and settlement.  The current Drain Code is dated to 1956 and needless to
say, needs updating.  We are no longer in need of preparing lands for
agriculture and settlement.  The Drain Code of 1956 is currently being
revised in the House Committee on Agriculture as HB 4337. 
Representative Howard Wetters (D-Kawkawlin) is the chair of this
committee and also the sponsor of this bill. There have been several
public hearings on the subject of Drain Code reform since its
introduction into the House in February of 1997 and it has been a
consistent agenda item for the Committee of Agriculture to deliberate.

MUCC, MEC, League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, and other conservation
and environmental organizations have been diligently working to ensure
that environmental principles are incorporated into the new Drain Code. 
To date, we have been relatively unsuccessful in relaying this message. 
In fact, the Committee removed the watershed management planning section
of the bill without any replacement waiting in the wings.  

Representative Wetters has indicated that there will be a fourth
substitute of this bill available next week that he plans to report out
of Committee to the House floor, just before the summer recess.  We need
your support to write letters to the House Committee on Agriculture,
especially Representative Wetters, stating that you strongly oppose the
bill until environmental and proper due process provisions are
incorporated into the bill like:

	the revision of the decision-making process to include public input
and environmental review,
 	removal of the provision of the bill that assesses state lands (i.e.
state game and recreational areas, 	etc.),
	inclusion of legal responsibility of drain commissioners to comply
with environmental regulations,
	inclusion of comprehensive watershed management planning throughout
the code
	inclusion of natural resource protection and draining alternative
incentives,
	clear definitions of maintenance, improvements, and benefit, and
	a definition of a drain that does not include every natural water body
in Michigan.

Please use the above points to write to the members of the Committee on
Agriculture and/or Representative Wetters and let them know that you, a
constituent and voter, oppose this bill until the above amendments are
included.

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