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Mark Van Putten, NWF President, on the Humbug Marsh

Date: Wed, 05 May 1999 09:31:31 -0400
From: "JULIE METTY" <METTY@nwf.org>
To: <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>
Subject: Humbug Marsh
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Humbug Marsh is the last remnant of Great Lakes coastal marsh on the
Michigan mainland of the Detroit River.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is
considering a permit application to allow the construction of luxury homes
and a golf course within the Marsh area.  Please write the Corps of
Engineers and urge them to deny this proposed permit. 

May 5, 1999

Dear Michigan Friend:

	Humbug Marsh, along the Detroit River in Wayne County, is a wildlife
treasure amidst the urban sprawl that surrounds it.  The marsh is part of
the last mile of undeveloped shoreline on the 32-mile Michigan mainland
between Lakes St. Clair and Erie, and is the last remnant of Great Lakes
coastal marsh on the Michigan side of the Detroit River.  Such coastal
marshes were once commonplace along both sides of the Detroit River and most
of the shoreline of western Lake Erie, but 97% have been wiped out by
shoreline development.

	As one of the last of its kind, Humbug Marsh is a rare and
ecologically-significant resource for wildlife.  The Marsh is home to a
variety of threatened and endangered species, and is used by bald eagles and
osprey.  In addition, the lower Detroit River, including Humbug Marsh, is
the most important fish spawning and nursery habitat in the entire Detroit
River and much of western Lake Erie.  The area is also nationally recognized
as a walleye fishing hot spot each spring by thousands of anglers.  In fact,
a group of Canadian and American scientists recently found *an urgent need
to protect remaining critical habitats . . .  like Humbug Marsh.*
Humbug Marsh doomed to be another golf course?

	In 1996, a Detroit-based development firm, Made in Detroit, bought land
that surrounds and includes Humbug Marsh with grand plans of a luxury home
and golf course development.  The developer bought the property knowing that
a conservation easement protected the wetlands, Humbug Island and a small
upland buffer from development.

	The developer applied for a permit to alter the easement and fill the
wetland in order to build their *Gibraltar Bay* development.  Public
opposition to the project was overwhelming, in large part thanks to NWF
members and friends like you, and the permit application was denied.  

	The victory of the permit denial was short-lived.  Within a few weeks of
that denial, the developer submitted a modified application to the Army
Corps of Engineers, which enforces federal wetlands laws, and the Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality.  The changes in the resubmitted plans
are largely cosmetic, and the impacts on fish and wildlife habitat will
still be devastating. 

What you can do
	Humbug Marsh will be lost if the proposed wetland fill permit application
is granted.  The Corps of Engineers is accepting comments on the proposed
wetland fill permit now until May 20.   The most important thing you can do
to save Humbug Marsh is write a letter to the Corps of Engineers.   Ask them
to deny the permit because: 

* The proposal will destroy priceless habitat on the island, in the marsh
and along the coast;
* The proposal will degrade recreation, including fishing and bird watching
areas; and 
* The indirect impacts of the proposal on the land and water protected by
the easement will defeat the purpose of the easement, which is held by the
state for all of us.

Please send your letter to:
David Gesl	
Project Manager, Regulatory Branch
Construction-Operations Division	
Detroit District, Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 1027
Detroit, MI  48231

Thank you for your help on this important matter. 


Mark Van Putten, President
National Wildlife Federation

P.S.  If you want to save this Marsh once and for all, the time for action
is now!  We did an excellent job defeating the first permit application, but
now we need to ensure the permanent protection of Humbug Marsh. Comments are
due by May 20.