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EXECUTIVE DIRECTIVE No. 2004-4
PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION OF MICHIGAN’S WETLANDS
WHEREAS, Section 1 of Article V of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 vests the executive power of the State of Michigan in the Governor;
WHEREAS, under Section 8 of Article V of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 each principal department of state government is under the supervision of the Governor unless otherwise provided by the Constitution;
WHEREAS, under Section 8 of Article V of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Governor is responsible to take care that the laws be faithfully executed;
WHEREAS, the conservation and development of the natural resources of the State of Michigan are of paramount public concern in the interest of the health, safety, and welfare of the people under Section 52 of Article IV of the Michigan Constitution of 1963;
WHEREAS, wetland conservation is a matter of state concern since a wetland in one county may be affected by acts on a river, lake, stream, or wetland in other counties;
WHEREAS, the conservation of wetlands is crucial to the continuing vitality of Michigan’s natural resources and economic development because wetlands provide such critical functions as flood and storm water control; wildlife habitat; breeding, nesting, and feeding grounds for endangered species; protection of subsurface water resources and recharging of ground water supplies; pollution treatment; erosion control; sources of nutrients for aquatic food cycles; and nursery grounds and sanctuaries for fish;
WHEREAS, under Part 303 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.30301 to 324.30323 (“Part 303”), the Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) may regulate certain small wetlands not otherwise under the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (“Act”) when the DEQ determines such wetlands are essential to the preservation of the natural resources of this state from pollution, impairment, and destruction;
WHEREAS, 1988 MR 6, R 281.924 identified features that, in the judgment of the DEQ, characterized such wetlands as essential to the preservation of the natural resources of this state, including whether the wetlands supported endangered or regionally important plant and animal life or represented a rare or unique ecosystem;
WHEREAS, using these criteria, in 1996 the DEQ completed a systematic survey of critical non-contiguous wetlands by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, which still represents the most accurate and comprehensive database of critical non-contiguous wetlands currently available for the State of Michigan;
WHEREAS, since completing the inventory in 1996, the DEQ has not yet developed a process to place critical non-contiguous wetlands under the jurisdiction of the Act thus preventing regulation, protection, and conservation of the wetlands in accordance with Act;
WHEREAS it is necessary and prudent to implement an orderly and systematic process to conserve and protect Michigan’s critical non-contiguous wetlands from pollution, impairment, and destruction;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of the State of Michigan, by virtue of the power and authority vested in the Governor by the Michigan Constitution of 1963 and Michigan law direct the following:
A. Not later than 60 days after the effective date of this Directive, the DEQ shall develop a process to bring Michigan’s critical non-contiguous wetlands located on public land within the jurisdiction of Part 303. By establishing jurisdiction, the DEQ shall, consistent with Michigan law, subject critical non-contiguous wetlands located on public land to the same permitting criteria and procedures as other wetlands within the jurisdiction of Part 303 prior to the effective date of this Directive.
B. In developing the process required under Paragraph A, the DEQ shall rely on relevant scientific data and information, including, but not limited to, the 1996 survey by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.
C. The process required under Paragraph A, as implemented by the DEQ, shall provide, at a minimum, for all of the following:
1. Confirmation that each critical non-contiguous wetland subject to the requirements of this Directive meets the statutory definition of a “wetland” under Section 30301(p) of the Act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.30301(p).
2. Verification that each critical non-contiguous wetland subject to the requirements of this Directive meets at least one of the conditions that characterize a wetland as essential to the preservation of the natural resources of this state under 1998 MR 7, R 281.924(3)(a) to 281.924(3)(d).
3. Determination of the general geographic scope and location of each critical non-contiguous wetland utilizing appropriate technology available to the DEQ.
4. Identification of the current owner of each critical non-contiguous wetland site, utilizing property tax records, land records, regional registers, or other sources of information as authorized by law.
5. Notification to all owners of a critical non-contiguous wetland subject to the requirements of this Directive within 60 days of determination by the DEQ that a site contains a critical non-contiguous wetland and is subject to regulation by the DEQ.
6. Creation of a public record system to serve as a database for all critical non-contiguous wetlands in Michigan regulated by the DEQ.
D. The DEQ shall report not less than annually to the Governor, and as otherwise requested by the Governor, on its progress in implementing this Directive.
E. All state departments and agencies shall assist the DEQ as necessary in implementing this Directive.
F. As used in this Directive
1. “Critical non-contiguous wetland” means an essential wetland of less than 5 acres in size or that is otherwise not regulated under Part 303, and is not contiguous to a water body.
2. “Department of Environmental Quality” or “DEQ” means the principal department of state government created under Executive Order 1995-18, MCL 324.99903.
3. “Wetland” means that term as defined under Section 30301(p) of the Act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.30301(p).
This Directive is effective immediately.
The assistance of all state departments and agencies in implementing this Directive and the continued hard work of state employees is appreciated.
Given under my hand this 21st day of April in the year of our Lord, two thousand four.
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM