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E-M:/ Re: Detroit News wetlands article

Enviro-Mich message from Sue Julian <benj@tir.com>

Although prosecutions are contemplated for unauthorized wetland
destruction, let's look behind the headlines.

"News of Michigan's crack-down comes at nearly the same moment federal
environmental officials are wrapping up a four-year review of national
wetlands laws." It also comes just before the time that Region V EPA will
issue it's report on how well Michigan is doing in enforcing wetlands
permitting on behalf of the federal government.  You may remember that a
year ago, following a PEER report and substantial outcry from local
activists, EPA started a review of Michigan's wetland policy.  The report
is due out soon. Hmmmmmmm.

"a combined state and county effort to stop secret draining and filling of
fragile marsh areas" is long overdue, but Macomb is also experiencing a
rash of "legal" draining and subsequent DEQ map revision of floodplain
areas.  Here's how it works:  Sen. Bennett's 1998 bill allows for a
basement to be built in a floodplain if drain work is performed.  Following
the draining, the land is presumably no longer subject to flooding, so of
course, it can't be considered a floodplain, and so of course, federal
flood insurance can be obtained for the structures.  The DEQ is routinely
asked to aid in the process by redrawing the floodplain map. Hmmmmmmm.

And how can drain work be obtained?  Proposed law:  5 people petition (they
can all represent the same parcel of land.) Drain board hears their "need"
and a project is started. OR a developer simply presents a drain
commissioner with a private plan allowable under Sections 425 or 433. No
public review of the plan. Hmmmmmmmmm.

But surely draining wetlands is prohibited?  Actually not; here's the
"Sec. 10  Drains may be laid or extended into or along or from any lake or
other body of water surrounded wholly or in part by a swamp, marsh or other
low lands for the general purpose of drainage...SUBJECT TO ANY PERMIT
Readers of Enviro-Mich know that wetlands under 5 acres are not protected,
but they may not realize that drain commissioners further argue that they
don't have to get permits if the current work is merely an extension or
addition to an existing drain (read river) that was established prior to
1973.  Almost everything in Macomb County connects to the Clinton River
which was designated as a drain before 1973. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Congratulations to Mark Richardson's office for taking action.

But do you suppose wetlands will actually now be protected by law?  Not if
the proposed legislation passes. Take action now to oppose the Drain Code
revision sponsored by the Michigan Association of County Drain
Commissioners.  The bill is coming up again in the senate committee on
Farming, Agribusiness and Food Systems chaired by Sen. George McManus
(517-373-1725 or  <SenGMcManus@Senate.state.mi.us>).   

* Sue Julian                                                    *
* Michigan Drain Code Coalition                                 *
* Phone: (248) 634-3513                                         *
* P.O. Box 304                                                  *
* Holly, MI 48442                                               *
* email: benj@tir.com                                           *
* MDCC Homepage: http://members.tripod.com/Michigan_Drain_Code/ *

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