A Michigan Mistake: Handing over Wetlands to Fed Authority

Conservationists oppose move

Representative Tom Pearce in his February District 73 message said “I support and will work to transfer the state-run wetlands program, currently under the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, to the Environmental Protection Agency, making Michigan consistent with 48 other states;”

As a member of the Izaak Walton Conservation Chapter, we cannot in good conscience as “Defenders of Soil, Air, Woods and Wildlife” allow this to take place. We need to act now.

To: The Honorable Jennifer Granholm, Governor The Honorable Mark C. Jansen, Senator District 28, and The Honorable Tom Pearce, Representative District 73.

We are writing you at this time because the Board of Directors of the Dwight Lydell Chapter of the Izaak Walton League is convinced that eliminating the Michigan Wetlands program is wrong and will have a negative effect on the environment, Michigan businesses and the Michigan economy.

Michigan has been in the forefront since 1984 in protecting our wetlands, including those wetlands that the federal government cannot legally protect. Michigan is also a leader in permit review efficiency and speed. It is this quick and dependable response to permit applications that causes organizations in the private sector, beyond environmental groups, to support Michigan’s program, and who will be negatively impacted if Michigan’s program is eliminated. The federal government will not have sufficient inspectors in the field to confirm permit application, they have no incentive to issue permits in a reasonable time frame, and without a local presence, will have no incentive to be flexible if that is needed and appropriate. That says nothing about development in critical wetlands that can occur which will never be noticed by the federal government.

The potential financial savings claimed by elimination of this program will be offset by a significant loss of effectiveness in protecting the environment and providing predictability for Michigan businesses. Loss of this program will have serious negative impacts on both the economic and environmental goals of this state, precisely at a time when Michigan needs a clear focus on both objectives.

A most significant issue, other than a reduction in wetlands protection and a much longer timetable for permit processing, is the end of the ability for Michigan residents to contact a local official with whom they can meet to resolve issues or obtain answers to complex questions. In a program as difficult as wetlands protection, doing without a local contact is moving backward both socially and environmentally.

We understand the financial condition of state government and the need to cut expenses. However, abolishing this program will cost far more than any short-term savings gained by its elimination.

We strongly encourage you to vote against and speak out against passage of HB 4153 and SB 187, which provide for elimination of Michigan’s very successful and necessary wetlands program.

Ron Waybrant, Conservation Chairperson DLC-IWLA
Dwight Lydell Chapter, IWLA

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