I ask that you please post this letter written by a lady who watched the fight to save the last large forested wetland along Lake St. Clair for years. She wrote this letter to a reporter for the Detroit News, never dreaming that a larger audience might see it. Saving Wetlands and Trees of Chesterfield Township filed a Michigan Environmental Protection Act lawsuit to try to save 46 acres of this forest but Judge Donald Miller never let our lawsuit get its day in court. He dismissed it. The MEPA is in danger. In Macomb County it doesn't seem to have a chance. We agree with all of the environmental groups calling on Gov. Granholm to step up to the plate now!!! Every day that goes by sees more natural areas disappear no matter what we do or how much money we spend. Please read the following letter.
----- Original Message -----
From: rebecca rudnick
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2003 6:17 PM
Subject: Fw: 11-23-03 Wetlands news story
Dear old mom! I'm not sure what happened to her editor, but she cares. I personally did not read it all before she sent it but I don't think she said anything damaging. I'm just glad she is concerned and I hope this info will get out. If not through mom's writing, then through a different source, it sure needs to be known!
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2003 5:23 PM
Subject: 11-23-03 Wetlands news story
Hello Mr Schabath,
Thank you for your story in the Sunday paper, dated 11/23/03. I only
hope it was carefully read and informed the readers what is going on in
this state of Michigan that has been blessed with Lake St. Clair and 5
For 6 years I have known of a small
group that have worked long and hard
trying to save a forested wetland area that is over 100 acres in size
that drains into the Salt River which flows directly into Lake St Clair.
A large portion of this land was puchased by developers who were well
aware that it contained wet lands. Who can blame them? They are in the
business of building and beautiful
locations are no longer plentiful in
this area. Or, for that matter, miles
around this area.
So whose job is it to protect our wetlands and keep our water clean? And
who will see to it that THESE individuals do THEIR job!? In other words,
"Where does the buck stop?"
There is even a natural spring that has
never stopped flowing for longer than
is known. Many, many people get their
water there. We have gotten water there for over 40 years ourselves. No
this will end when all the concrete is
poured and all the homes are built, and (as is natural with us humans )
pollution from every day living begins.
To my understanding, this group
saw that their township wanted the development (even though years back
they had talked of plans to buy this
property and set it aside as a park for
the people to enjoy). There are many different types of animals, plant
life and birds in this rich woods. This forest contains just the right
tree habitat to house bats. One type in particular is an endangered bat
that would migrate to and from the same roosting spot each year.
Although there was never a study to confirm the presence of the
endangered bats, the possibility must have been strong because 1 1/2
years ago the developer had many of these "trees of choice" chopped down
all throughout the property. (The sad note here is that the State of
Michigan's Fish and Wildlife Department assisted by pointing out the
25-100+ year old trees most favored by bats!) From the history of New
I heard at one time this area contained a Native American village and
cemetery and that artifacts had been found there. Who should have been
in charge of saving these important woods that filters the water going
into Lake St Clair and had so much wild life and history for our
children (for now and the far future) to enjoy? I am entering the last
of my life but when I think of nature and freedom I enjoyed as a child,
I cry for my grand children and the children to come. I enjoy the life
style of today but there should be set aside and
protected the wonderful parts of the
life we leave behind. Children should be taught how this earth has
served us and
will continue to do so if it is managed right and cared for by each of
This small but dedicated group saw that where money is to be made there
is little hope of appealing to the hearts of man.
For them to see that money can never replace nature and the wondeful way
it serves and protects our lives and health.
They went to congresswoman Candice Miller to help them with grants to
try and purchase the land because her platform is based around the
environment and and its protection, particularly the protection of
Michigan's Great Lakes and the wetland areas around it. After numerous
attempts to meet with her they finally had the opportunity to approach
her at a local event. But after expressing their concerns, she simply
said she was sorry but she couldn't help them because there was a
conflict of interest as her husband, Judge Miller of Macomb County, was
assigned to a case, filed by County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga. involving
the developer of the woods.
As a last resort, they filed a MEPA suit thinking JUSTICE is the answer.
still depend on the USA for justice and
honor!. BUT- can we?
They were assigned a judge who (it had been said) was a nice, likeable
man. Yet, even though he knew the developers were aware that the land
they purchased contained wetlands, he was quoted as saying, "It should
be up to the owner of property to do as they pleased with their land".
When the suit was filed the group explained the situation they had
encountered with Rep. Miller and
asked if they could be assigned to another judge. The clerk understood
assign another judge. Yet, when they
met wth the developers and judge
Miller, they were very angry. The
developers were not willing to have another judge and Judge Miller was
not willing to step down. He said he would not let another judge have
the case and besides there was no conflict of interest, Implying his
wife was mistaken. The group thought since there was no conflict of
interest they could approach
Rep. Miller again for help. But there
was no return of their calls and she has been unreachable to this day.
Things dragged on as the developers kept
working long and hard to get as much done as quickly as possible. There
were false accusations made about the
group working to save the woods but
they believed American justice would at least see they had their day in
court and their cause would be heard. Even if they lost, they would have
known they did their best and had their day in an American court and
there could be no better chance. But did they? After days of waiting
while more and more of the woods were cleared the lawyers
asked for a hearing. There was no
"stop work order" issued to the developers and as they waited for a
court date, the
woods were disappearing.
A few days later, after all the effort that had been put forward, the
wittnesses contacted, the expenses
esculated to more than $25,000, the
judge dismissed the case without allowing the group to have their day.
They were never allowed to present their case or say one word. He
figured this dedicated group was destroyed and an appeal (which there
are great grounds for) could lead to a long drawn out wait and more
expense than could even be imagined!
In the meantime the developers were ready to start paving roads. By the
time they may could have had their day in court to plea for the life of
these woods, the homes would be up and sold. There would be no woods
The developers did their work unapposed by anyone of power or
importance, so they were not to blame. The lawyers did their work and
waited. The group that cared for the work the woods could give the lakes
and the community, did more than anyone could ask. There was no one of
power they could turn to for more help and they still never had their
say in court.
This is American justice?? Yes, for
the developers, the lawyers, the judge
The woods no longer will serve man nor will they need the help of man.
THEY ARE GONE------
The law passed in1979 to help save wetlands, could not help because
were not enough inspectors to enforce
this law! In Dec., 2003, 24 years later, there were not enough
inspectors to enforce this law!
Replacing destroyed wetlands with man-
made wetlands miles apart, does not work. This has been proven for 24
Isn't that enough time to be convincing?
This law seems to be just a game to the
deveopers! A game called "Catch Me If You Can"
How can a man-made wetland miles away from a destroyed God-made wetland,
protect and clean water going into a near by lake of the orginal site?
Am I correct in understanding that
developers believe they have a 25%
chance of not being caught (saving them
thousands of dollars) and believe that is good enouigh odds to break the
Michigan will then be the loser of
thousands of dollars of fines as well as the state of cleaned water.
If the wetlands law, passed in 1979,
is too tough for the state of Michigan to enforce and the man-made
not,(in fact, they cannot) doing the job
the orginal wetlands are doing, then
why have the law? Isn't 24 years
proof enouigh (as well as the fast
disapearance of our wetlands and
closed beaches, etc.) to jar us awake
and aware of what should be done?
Could we have a law with enough teeth to see it is strickly enforced!?
If not, then I guess, there is only one
way to go---------- WAIT FOR TIME
to give us the truth. We may not
ever know but our children and
grandchildren will. We may be
all wrong and over reacting but what if
we are right
When I started writing, I was only going to tell you how I appreciated
in the News about the wetlands. But the words kept spilling out and I
know you may not have time to read this and I understand. However---If
stay with me, I want to thank you for
reading my thoughts. It means so much
Thank you ,
Bettye Hardy (age 73)
4909 Starville Road
China, Mi 48054
Home Phone: 810-765-4969