Environmental Commission Hears Presentation on Wetland Banking

Environmental Commission Hears Presentation on Wetland Banking

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - At the Environmental Commission Meeting on August 1, 2018, a representative of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Steve Shine, gave a presentation on Wetland Banking.

The goal of Wetland Banking is a way to prevent the net loss of wetlands to farming, public works projects, private construction, ect. For every acre of wetland that is destroyed, 1.5 to 2 acres of wetland has to be restored.

For farmers, they may not have the space on their land to restore wetlands, but they have to conform to federal standards to get any type of government assistance, including insurance. This is where the DNR and the Michigan Municipal Wetland Alliance (MMWA) come in. The DNR has begun to work on restoring high-quality wetlands to create "credits" for farmers or municipalities to buy. The farmers can then buy the credits necessary to mitigate any wetland destruction that they have on their property (caused post 1985) from the MMWA or another private bank.

The overall goal of this program is to restore wetlands on State of Michigan owned land, that can then be used to encourage a high-quality, long lasting environment for plants and animals and outdoor recreation for people to come and enjoy.

"We're enhancing recreational opportunities on state-owned land, so there's a lot of hunting opportunity for waterfowl, for game birds on wetland habitats. And there's all sorts of dickie birds that people like to look at and have benefitted from having wetland habitat in the vicinity," Shine said. "And then we're doing it across the state, and we're doing it in advance of some projects that we expect will need the credits. So we tried to distribute our first four project sites across lower Michigan because that's where we expected most of the economic development to occur."

Ingham County Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann stated some of his concerns about Wetland Banking. "One acre of wetland stores upwards of one million to one and a half million gallons of water, to process, evaporate, and treat that water. That makes my job easier as a water manager, if it's here. If you allow development to happen, and you replace it with something in Grand Rapids, I don't know what good it does here," Lindemann said.

The Environmental Commission discussed the possibility of bringing this program into the township, but with current township regulations it must be revisited in the future.

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