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E-M:/ Re: Detroit News wetlands article



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Enviro-Mich message from "Gary Marx" <MARXGF@state.mi.us>
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Just a point of clarification:  

Many wetlands under 5 acres in size are regulated under the state wetland statute; specifically, all wetlands regardless of size that are all or partially within 500 feet of a lake, stream or pond are considered contiguous wetlands and are therefore regulated under Part 303, Wetlands Protection of the state environmental code.  This applies in all counties, while the 5 acre criteria, which applies only to non-contiguous wetlands, only applies in counties that have over 100,000 people.

Here is the specific language of the statute, which is part of the definitions section, defining the areas that are regulated by the statute:

"Wetland" means land characterized by the presence of water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances does support, wetland vegetation or aquatic life, and is commonly referred to as a bog, swamp, or marsh and which is any of the following: 

(i) Contiguous to the Great Lakes or Lake St. Clair, an inland lake or pond, or a river or stream. 

(ii) Not contiguous to the Great Lakes, an inland lake or pond, or a river or stream; and more than 5 acres in size; except this subparagraph shall not be of effect, except for the purpose of inventorying, in counties of less than 100,000 population until the department certifies to the commission it has substantially completed its inventory of wetlands in that county. 

Also FYI, below is the language in the rules that defines what "contiguous" means:

(b) "Contiguous" means any of the following: 

(i) A permanent surface water connection or other direct physicalcontact with an inland lake or pond, a river or stream, one of the GreatLakes, or Lake St. Clair. 

(ii) A seasonal or intermittent direct surface water connection to aninland lake or pond, a river or stream, one of the Great Lakes, or LakeSt. Clair. 

(iii) A wetland is partially or entirely located within 500 feet of theordinary high watermark of an inland lake or pond or a river or stream oris within 1,000 feet of the ordinary high watermark of one of the GreatLakes or Lake St. Clair, unless it is determined by the department,pursuant to R 281.924(4), that there is no surface water or groundwaterconnection to these waters. 

(iv) Two or more areas of wetland separated only by barriers, such asdikes, roads, berms, or other similar features, but with any of thewetland areas contiguous under the criteria described in paragraph (i),(ii), or (iii) of this subdivision.The connecting waters of the Great Lakes, including the St. Marys, St.Clair, and Detroit rivers, shall be considered part of the Great Lakes forpurposes of this definition.


G. Marx


>>> Sue Julian <benj@tir.com> 03/07 1:54 PM >>>
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Enviro-Mich message from Sue Julian <benj@tir.com>
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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
language:
"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
REQUIRED UNDER THE NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT...."
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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