Cannon Twp. chosen for state wetlands program

Cannon Township has been chosen to be part of the Wetlands Local Assistance Pilot Program through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE). The goal of the pilot program is to increase the efficiency of the wetland permitting process through local and state resources in order to protect the wetlands of the state.

The township is one of only three entities chosen by the state to participate in the pilot program. The other two entities chosen are Michigan Association of Conservation Districts on behalf of Calhoun, Delta and Muskegon County Conservation Districts and the Thumb Land Conservancy of St. Clair County.

Cannon Township Watershed Administrative Assistant Kim Sapkowski applied for the program in December 2009. She was notified of the township’s acceptance into the program on February 23, 2010.

“Cannon Township has been a state leader in watershed conservation,” said Sapkowski. “Participating in this pilot project will allow the township to partner with the state of Michigan to not only streamline the wetland permitting process, but to educate our citizens about wetlands and the importance of protecting them. It is our goal to show other communities that local wetlands protection can be done.”

The township’s Wetlands Ordinance protects wetlands in Cannon Township that are less than five acres. This is important, because the MDNRE only regulates wetlands that are more than five acres in size and/or are adjacent to a body of water.

“Wetlands control flooding, filter storm water run-off, recharge groundwater [drinking water], and provide habitat for Michigan’s native plants and animals,” commented Sapkowski. “Wetlands are one of the most complex ecosystems in the world; most of a wetland’s function and ecosystem goes unseen by humans, but is nonetheless very important.”

MDRNE’s Amy Lounds is preparing the final outline of the program, which will run until October 1, 2012.

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