Environmental Protection

Wetlands

Wetlands provide a necessary benefit to many natural features in Michigan, such as lakes, streams, rivers, ground water, and wildlife. Some of the benefits provided by wetlands are:

  • Flood and storm water control
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Protection of groundwater
  • Reduction of pollutants in storm water runoff
  • Erosion control by acting as sedimentation and filtering basins

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) defines a wetland as "land characterized by the presence of water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances does support, wetland vegetation or aquatic life, and is commonly referred to as a bog, swamp, or marsh." Identification of wetlands in Michigan is completed by utilizing the technical wetland delineation standards set forth in the United States Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual and the applicable supplements. This method primarily involves the determination of three factors:

  • Predominance of wetland vegetation
  • Hydric (wetland) soils
  • Signs of hydrology

It should be noted that there various environmental regulations that come into play when working in or within 500 feet of a regulated wetland. Work that is proposed in a regulated wetland will require a permit from the MDEQ at a minimum. Depending on the nature and scope of project, additional measures may be required, such as mitigation or construction of replacement wetlands. In addition, please note that storm water retention and detention basins may be regulated as wetlands by the MDEQ if they exhibit the three determination factors noted above.

It is important to contact OSEH EP3 early in the planning stages of projects that will involve earthwork or work that will involve placement of anything in, under, or adjacent to a wetland so that a proper review of the work area can be performed, and the appropriate permits can be obtained. Permits from the MDEQ for work involving wetlands can take several months (or longer) to obtain, so plan accordingly.

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