Republicans working to eliminate half of Michigan's protected wetlands

by

comment
These guys probably wouldn't be happy if Michigan Republicans' SB 1211 passes. - MICHAEL DEEMER | SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Michael Deemer | Shutterstock.com
  • These guys probably wouldn't be happy if Michigan Republicans' SB 1211 passes.

A new bill introduced by Senate Republicans would eliminate protected status for about 500,000 acres of Michigan wetlands, thus making them available for developers.

If approved, SB 1211 would change the rules so the Michigan Department of Natural Resources cannot protect tracts of land under 10 acres. It currently can protect tracts of land that are at least five acres.



The Detroit Free Press reports that would impact about 70,000 wetlands statewide, or about half of the protected wetlands in each Michigan county.

"Without regulatory protections, these wetlands, lakes and streams can be filled, dredged, and constructed on without a permit," Tom Zimnicki, agriculture policy director for the nonprofit Michigan Environmental Council, told the Free Press. “Think you have lakefront property? If this bill becomes law, your house could be facing a parking lot instead of a beautiful lake.”



Ironically, the change could ultimately lead to stricter laws. Michigan is one of the few states in the nation that oversees its wetlands instead of the Environmental Protection Agency. The state has a deal with the federal government in which Michigan agrees to set regulations that are as strict as the EPA's. The state is already in violation of that agreement with some of its lax rules, according to Zimnicki, and further loosening could prompt a federal takeover of Michigan's wetlands.

It's unclear whether the bill will require supermajorities or simple majorities during the lame duck session. We'll update the story when we have clarification.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.