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E-M:/ Erosion Control from Michigan Environews

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

Thanks a lot to Dave Poulson for posting these stories for us to check out!

The discussion by state lawmakers reported in the Grand Rapids Press story by
Ed White (on M-Live - see below), especially of the majority party, regarding
steps to address erosion caused by tree clearing looks encouraging.  One note
about this is that Michigan has in place, as a result of its requirements
under the Clean Water Act, as set of "best management practices" for forest
management that are voluntary. These BMPs are in a booklet called "Water
Quality Management Practices on Forest Land" and while not anywhere near as
strong as I would like to see, they provide guidance for clearing trees on
slopes by waterways -- very clearly.  I don't know the details on the slope at
the site, but the BMPs point out that a slope of 20-30 % should have a MINIMUM
width buffer strip of 135 ft -- at a 50% slope they point out "Activity may
not be advisable due to erosion potential.  Extreme care must be taken to
prevent movement of soil."  Other state's BMPs are more stringent than this.

Ironically, even if these were mandatory standards (a first step toward some
decent forest practice requirements in our state) because the INTENT was not
timber cutting but golf course construction, most people would probably assume
the Arcadia project exempt from the regulations.  If a handle on this problem
is to be had, it needs to be based on the effect on the resource, NOT on the
intent of the landowner -- clearing forests can cause devastating erosion
problems regardless of whether these are loggers clearcutting to produce pulp
or developers getting the trees out of the way so they can build something
else.  Funny thing is, nature looks at all these activities pretty much the

Anne Woiwode

GRAND RAPIDS Three state lawmakers said they will draft legislation to 
strengthen Michigan's soil-erosion law after repeated runoffs last year at a 
golf course built along a fragile Lake Michigan bluff in Manistee County.

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