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MI Organizations Unite to Protect, Restore Wetlands

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Have you ever heard a duck breathe a sigh of relief? Or quack for joy? Michigan’s waterfowl and other wetland wildlife have been given a chance to do just that with the support of the Michigan Wetland Working Group and their Wetlands Restoration Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

In commemoration of World Wetlands Day, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Michigan Department of Agriculture, USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and Ducks Unlimited (DU) will ceremonially sign and celebrate the MOU at a press day event in conjunction with the Michigan Ducks Unlimited Annual State Convention. The signing will take place Friday, Feb. 2, at 3:15 p.m., at the Holiday Inn Lansing, 7501 W. Saginaw Hwy., with a wine and cheese reception following. The media are encouraged to attend. To show support for the MOU, MI State Representative Darwin Booher, (R-102) will be in attendance. Representing and signing the MOU on behalf of their organization will be Regional Director USFWS Robyn Thorson, Director MI DEQ Steven Chester, State Conservationist with NRCS Jack Bricker, Chair of the Michigan Joint Venture Chuck Nelson, and Director of MDEQ Mitch Irwin.

Michigan has lost nearly half the wetlands it once had. Many of the state’s remaining wetlands are seriously degraded and under continual threat. To reverse this trend, DU, its Michigan partners, and private landowners have cooperated to conserve over more than 55,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitat since 1985.

“The effects of losing Michigan’s wetlands impact not only waterfowl, but also many other wildlife species. Wetlands also benefit people by improving water quality, retaining floodwater, and providing recreational opportunities,” said David Brakhage, DU director of conservation programs of conservation programs. “The continued loss of these natural treasures necessitates an active, participatory coalition to protect Michigan’s wetlands—the MOU marks the beginning of a new era of wetland conservation in Michigan.”

The MOU, which officially took effect with the final partner’s signature on Sept. 18, 2006, is designed to support and encourage voluntary wetland restoration in Michigan and to protect existing wetlands. Under the MOU, the MDEQ will plan and implement methods of giving special consideration to voluntary projects that restore wetlands in Michigan and will work to streamline the permitting process for these projects. The rest of the Michigan Wetland Working Group has agreed to pursue projects that re-establish naturally functioning wetland systems or that can mirror them. They will coordinate project information on a county level through the MDNR Wildlife Division to facilitate cooperation and avoid statistical duplication.

For more information, please contact David Brakhage at (734) 623-2000.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States has lost more than half of its original wetlands—nature’s most productive ecosystem—and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.


Contact: Kelli Alfano,
Public Affairs Coordinator
(734) 623-2000 or kalfano@ducks.org



 

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