If you're planning to build in Michigan, you need to check out final wetland inventory maps recently issued by the state.
They show approximate locations of wetlands in all 83 Michigan counties. In the Saginaw Bay area, the final maps are the same as preliminary maps issued last year during contentious public hearings on the issue.
''They are a tool as an indicator of wetlands and not definitive, but we do have a lot of wetlands, particularly in undeveloped areas,'' said Daniel H. Morgan, Land and Water Management Division supervisor at the Department of Environmental Quality's Saginaw Bay District Office in Bay City.
The object of the maps is to protect wetlands from unregulated development and prevent the public from violating state wetland regulations, Morgan said. Wetlands filter surface water, recharge groundwater, provide fish and wildlife habitat and control flooding,
With the finalizing of the maps, regulated wetlands in all counties now include isolated wetlands more than 5 acres in size.
Previously, only wetlands that were contiguous to a river, lake, stream or pond were regulated, Morgan said. Isolated wetlands were previously not regulated except in counties with a population of more than 100,000 people.
''That applied to Bay and Saginaw counties and now it applies to all counties statewide,'' Morgan said.
DEQ officials hope the new, finalized maps help reduce confusion about development in wetland areas.
If you check the inventory for your county and find that the land you want to develop is in an area that has wetlands soils and has been identified on state and national maps (highlighted with slash marks), contact the DEQ, Morgan advises. The maps are available online at www.michigan.gov/deqwetlands.
''Most farmland is not actually regulated wetland,'' he said. ''It wouldn't meet criteria today because it's been previously drained.''
An official wetland assessment is required to make a final determination. The cost is $500 for the first acre and $250 for each additional acre, Morgan said.
Those prices have more than doubled since last year due to state budget cuts; general fund money no longer subsidizes the DEQ wetland identification program, Morgan said. Assessments also can be done by private consultants.
To develop on a wetland, a permit also has to be granted, and mitigation conducted to create new wetlands to offset the loss. Normally, 2 acres of wetlands must be created for every 1 acre that's impacted. The normal fee for a permit is $500.
Morgan said the maps have been distributed to local governments and also are available for viewing at the DEQ office in Bay City. The phone number there is 686-8025.
The maps were built with state and national aerial photography and soil information.
That information was last updated in 1983. Morgan said newer information and an official, definitive map wasn't developed due to budget constraints.
The DEQ Calendar for February 5, 2007, is now available on the DEQ Web site at http://www.michigan.gov/deqcalendar.
Here’s one item…
LAND AND WATER MANAGEMENT DIVISION
THE LAND AND WATER MANAGEMENT DIVISION HAS CERTIFIED TO THE DEQ DIRECTOR THAT IT HAS SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED ITS INVENTORY OF WETLANDS AS OF
JANUARY 1, 2007. Final wetland inventory maps can be accessed electronically or requested in paper format at cost at www.michigan.gov/deqwetlands. Now that the inventory is complete, all non-contiguous wetlands over five acres in size will be regulated regardless of county population, making regulatory requirements uniform in all counties. Information Contact: Amy Lounds, Land and Water Management Division, 517-241-8169.
Water Sentinels Project
109 E. Grand River Ave.
Lansing, Michigan 48906
's waters fishable and swimmable. Michigan
-- Jeff Kart Environment/Politics reporter The Bay City Times, http://www.mlive.com/bctimes/ 311 Fifth St. Bay City, MI 48708-5853 Phone: (989) 894-9639 Toll-free in Mich.: 1-800-875-4444, ext. 639 Fax: (989) 893-0649. --