Require a Binding State Wetland Inventory

The inaccuracy of the state’s current wetland inventory makes it of little value to Michigan residents and businesses. The inventory is based only on aerial photography and on soil maps, which are themselves dependent on aerial photos. The result is inadequate.

The Legislature should require and finance a comprehensive state wetland inventory based on an on-the-ground survey. The survey’s findings should be considered definitive, allowing the state’s residents and businesses to know whether the property they are buying or building on contains regulated wetland.

The result would be fairer to residents and would encourage investment in the state by providing the predictability that businesses seek. Producing such an inventory should not be expensive if the DEQ assigns the task to personnel currently "protecting" wet areas of little value.

Regardless, the Legislature should stipulate that the DEQ’s current inventory is not a sufficient basis for invoking MCL 324.30301(p)(ii) and regulating noncontiguous wetlands larger than 5 acres in counties with a population of less than 100,000. Such regulation is unfair to the residents of those counties given the shortcomings of the present inventory. Moreover, the DEQ should not be allowed to use its own policy failure as grounds for increasing its power.