Michigan wetlands protection program

Two broad classifications of wetlands exist – coastal and inland. Coastal wetlands, as the name suggests, are found on the Atlantic, Pacific, Alaskan and Gulf coasts. Inland wetlands are found primarily along rivers, streams, lakes and ponds, as well as in isolated depressions such as basins.

Part 303 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Act 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.” More information about the specific characterizations of bogs, swamps, and marshes can be found here.

Very little quantitative information exists for wetlands within Ingham County. The Michigan Department on Environmental Quality created a wetland inventory map for Ingham County. The MDEQ compiled data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wetlands Inventory, the Michigan Resource Inventory System and U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. View the Ingham County wetland inventory map.

The City of East Lansing also has a series of maps and surveys on file that detail areas where wetlands are believed to be.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality projects that over one million acres of wetlands will no longer be protected if the Michigan Legislature passes a bill to eliminate the Michigan wetlands protection program.

“This million acres of wetlands are those that are not next to lakes or streams,” Department of Environmental Quality wetlands specialist Todd Losee said. “They’re isolated from the overall water system and are critical to a lot of species.”

The most threatened type of wetland is known as an ephemeral wetland, also referred to as an ephemeral pond, seasonal pond, temporary ponds or vernal pool. Learn more about ephemeral wetlands here.

“They’re wetlands that are wet in the spring, and then dry out. That does not allow fish to live in them,” Losee said. “That’s a big deal because that allows a lot of amphibians and reptiles to live in them because the fish don’t eat them. These vernal ponds are critical to maintaining the biodiversity of the state.”

~Theresa G.

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