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http://www.nwf.org/greatlakes/popenv/humbug.html
Although this site needs a little update in that Humbug Marsh is NOT
spared, it is still a good read.  May 5th approaches for the public
hearing at Yack Arena in Wyandotte.  Please attend.  Thanks, Kathleen
Title:

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UPDATE: Humbug Marsh Spared!
What is Humbug Marsh?
Humbug Marsh: The Issue
Take Me to Humbug Marsh
NWF Action Alert: How You Can Help

Humbug Marsh Spared!

December 2, 1998

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) today denied a developer's request for a wetland permit and denied their request to modify a conservation easement protecting Humbug Marsh and Island in the Detroit River.

The National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliate Michigan United Conservation Clubs worked very hard to protect Humbug Marsh. The decision by MDEQ is significant for two reasons:

The development would have destroyed the natural values of the last mile of coastal marsh on the U.S. side of the 32-mile Detroit River. The area is extremely valuable as walleye spawning ground, and as habitat for canvasbacks, redheads, osprey, herons and other birds.

The area was protected by a conservation easement that was created as mitigation for the loss of wetlands at another nearby site several years ago. If the MDEQ had altered the easement they would have severely compromised any credibility they had in upholding the public's interests in protecting valuable resources.

The MDEQ left the door open a crack for the developers saying they would not alter the easement on the island or marsh, but that they would consider altering the easement on the mainland if the developers came back with a modified proposal that met several conditions. The National Wildlife Federation and Michigan United Conservation Clubs will remain on watch to ensure not an inch of the easement is moved to accomodate development of this special area.


What is Humbug Marsh?

Humbug Marsh, part of the last mile of undeveloped shoreline on the 32-mile Michigan mainland between Lakes St. Clair and Erie, is the last remnant of Great Lakes coastal marsh on the Michigan mainland of the Detroit River. The lower Detroit River, including Humbug Marsh, is the most important spawning and nursery habitat in the entire Detroit River and much of Western Lake Erie. Humbug Marsh also contains a variety of unique and valuable habitats for fish and wildlife. Such coastal marshes were once present along both sides of the Detroit River and most of the shoreline of Western Lake Erie; however, approximately 97% of such marshes have been destroyed by shoreline development and high water levels during the past 70 years. The area is nationally recognized by fishing and duck hunting sportsmen. The development of this area will significantly interfere with recreational pursuits, will significantly impact critical fisheries, waterfowl, and other bird habitat, and will destroy the last remnants of an area rich in fish and wildlife habitat. Subsequently, irreversible harm on fisheries, wildlife, and the area's ecosystem would result from the current proposed development.

From 9/14/98 joint letter of national and statewide conservation organizations to
Russ Harding, Director, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality


Humbug Marsh: The Issue


A few years ago, the State of Michigan gave Waste Management Inc. permission to destroy another wetland nearby to build a landfill. The destruction of wetlands by the landfill were supposed to be "mitigated" by the conservation easement for Humbug Marsh, that prevents environmentally destructive uses of the property. At the time, the easement and the wetlands mitigation project was hailed as a victory a way to show that development and protection of the environment could co-exist.

Now the state may alter the conservation easement established as part of that deal to allow construction of 350 houses, a golf course, and a marina that threaten to destroy Humbug Island's natural marshes.


Take me to Humbug Marsh

The meadows need only the plowshare to grow anything;. . . the climate was much more salubrious and milder than at Quebec; there were no cold northeast winds; . . . the grape-vine has not strength to support the weight of its fruit and it has not yet wept under the knife of the vine dresser; . . .

the shy stag, the timid deer, the wild turkey hens, the strutting woodcocks, the quail, the partridge all are in greater numbers than in a private French park and as unafraid of man . . .

As for trees, there is every tree except the tropical which French parks are importing from all the world. The wild fowl are countless in flocks and kind - geese, ducks, teal, bittern, heron, loon, wood-pigeon and song-birds"



From Cadillac, Knight Errant of the Wilderness by Agnes Laut










National Wildlife Federation
Action Alert

The last remaining coastal marsh on the U.S. side of the Detroit River is threatened. We have until September 30 to stop the corps from issuing a wetland destruction permit.


I'm asking for your help to save Humbug Marsh, all that remains of the coastal marshlands that once lined the U.S. side of the Detroit River. Just 20 miles from downtown Detroit, this magnificent marsh is home to a rich array of animal and plant life including several threatened and endangered species. The area is one of the hottest walleye fisheries in North America. In the fall and winter, thousands of canvasbacks, redheads, and other ducks flock to the open water in the area. The summer brings dozens of great blue herons, black crowned night herons, egrets, and ospreys. Because of its excellent habitat, Humbug Marsh and Island have been nominated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for enhancement and protection of fish and wildlife, especially waterfowl.

A few years ago, the State of Michigan gave Waste Management Inc. permission to destroy another wetland nearby to build a landfill. The destruction of wetlands by the landfill were supposed to be "mitigated" by the conservation easement for Humbug Marsh, that prevents environmentally destructive uses of the property. At the time, the easement and the wetlands mitigation project was hailed as a victory a way to show that development and protection of the environment could co-exist.

Now the state may alter the conservation easement established as part of that deal to allow construction of 350 houses, a golf course, and a marina that threaten to destroy Humbug Island's natural marshes!

A Promise Is A Promise


A development company called Made In Detroit purchased the Marsh, Island, and part of the mainland knowing full well that a conservation easement was attached to the property. Now Made In Detroit wants the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (ACE) to give it permission to fill wetlands to construct a golf course and luxury homes on these fragile lands.

Clearing vegetation for construction of these homes, and lawns, will lead to increased runoff and other activities that will drastically destroy key habitat for fish and wildlife. If they are successful, this project will essentially destroy this unique public treasure.

I need your help to convince Russ Harding, Director of the DEQ and Robert Davis, District Engineer for the Corps' Detroit District to uphold and enforce the conservation easement in its entirety.

How You Can Help

Please, write Director Harding that the proposed project will seriously degrade the wetlands in the area, including vital habitat for fish and wildlife. Also tell him that he:
    • is legally and morally obligated to uphold the conservation easement;
    • must request that the Corps deny Made In Detroit permission to violate the easement; and,
    • impress on Director Harding that as a citizen and shareholder in the easement that you demand not an inch of it be moved to accommodate development in Humbug Marsh and Island.

Please also send a copy of your letter directly to LT. Colonel Robert Davis to reinforce your desire that he should deny permits for wetland filling in or around the marsh, as any such activity will destroy the area's ecological viability. Please send your letters by September 30th to:

Russell Harding, Director
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Hollister Building, 6th Floor
Lansing, MI 48909

and

Robert Davis, Lieutenant Colonel
District Engineer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 1027
Detroit, MI 48231


The public comment period ends September 30 so please write today.


Thank you for helping save this unique and fragile marsh.


Sincerely,

Mark Van Putten, President & CEO

P.S. If you have never seen Humbug Marsh, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. Once you visit the island, you will easily understand why we must save this last remaining wetlands in the Detroit River.




Humbug Marsh background information



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Last revised: 12/3/98
Photographs by Kathleen Eales

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