Michigan is NOT currently administering our wetland program appropriately. Even if we try to maintain that status-quo, the situation will likely deteriorate further, due to economic distress.
Our wetlands are wonderful and valuable resources. However Michigan government has not committed, nor can it afford to commit in the foreseeable future, the appropriate resources or oversight for MDEQ to appropriately and fairly administrate those programs. This problem dates back to well before the current fiscal crisis. Director Chester’s own remarks confirm that MDEQ simply cannot afford to allocate the appropriate resources to properly administer wetlands. Having the most-perfect wetland statute is absolutely meaningless if not properly administered.
Michigan and New Jersey are the only two states that administer their own wetlands programs, with Michigan being the only Great Lakes state to do so. All seven of the other Great Lakes states are under USEPA/USACE jurisdiction. Federal regulations work well for all other Great Lakes states and they should work equally well for Michigan. Our tax dollars have already paid the Feds to do what Michigan now pays again to have MDEQ do. This is an expense that Michigan can no longer afford.
Michigan’s wetland statute does go beyond federal law; however the major difference is regarding inland (“noncontiguous”) wetlands. Rather than sustaining MDEQ’s ineffective administration of wetland programs, Michigan should allow USEPA and USACE to administer the contiguous wetlands and also pass enabling legislation for local programs to administer noncontiguous wetlands that the federal law does not address. Such legislation, if well-written, would be cost-effective and responsive to local jurisdictional needs and conditions.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Dave Dempsey
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 7:54 AM
Subject: E-M:/ Free Press: keep wetlands protection in Michigan hands
Michigan cannot abandon its wetlands after three decades of fighting to protect them. The stakes are too high, not just because of the vital services that wetlands provide, but also because Michigan will be ceding any claim to leadership in the Great Lakes.
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