For more than a century, Michigan’s water resources have been a wellspring of environmental and economic benefit to the state. Protecting these resources is important.

But the current interpretation of Michigan wetland law ignores the dramatic improvements in water quality and environmental safeguards in recent decades. Worse, it threatens to turn a pursuit for nebulous environmental benefits into a weapon against the people’s rights and prosperity. The dispute over the “wetland” at Hart Enterprises is simply one example of this.

Michigan policymakers should recognize the need to reform the state’s wetland statute. A failure to act will make the state less attractive, less prosperous and — since Michigan will probably behave like other poorer regions — less concerned about the environment. Reform, on the other hand, will make the state’s wetland policy what the Hart Enterprises story should have been and could still become: a true Michigan success story.