LANSING, Michigan May 23, 2018 The Michigan House Natural Resources Committee recommended a pair of bills to streamline the process to restore wetland habitats across Michigan, improving water quality for millions of people and habit for hundreds of species of plants and animals.

House Bill 5854 outlines criteria for obtaining a voluntary wetland restoration permit and has a narrow list of wetland restoration organizations and agencies that can apply for this permit. The bills ensure that these permits cannot be used for mitigation purposes and must be on a completely voluntary basis. Under the legislation, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality would issue permits and would consult with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to ensure only the most qualified projects are successful.

House Bill 5855 defines different types of adversely affected wetlands and creates a new category of wetland restoration permit for organizations and agencies looking to engage in voluntary wetland restoration.

The bills are co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Rep. Gary Howell (82nd District) and Committee member Rep. Joseph Bellino (17th District). The Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the bills this morning.

The bills have bi-partisan support, as they streamline the process to increase much needed wetland acreage in Michigan. The bills also simplify regulations which would advance restoration efforts and reduce time delays and costs. These bills will next be voted on by the entire Michigan House of Representatives, where it is expected to garner wide support.

Wetlands are crucial for people and wildlife in the Great Lakes, including waterfowl. Wetlands act as natures kidneys by filtering pollutants from rainwater before they enter waterways. Wetland refill groundwater, prevent flooding downstream and provide habitat for more than 900 species of plants and animals.

Michigan has lost half of its historic wetlands, including up to 90 percent lost in some parts of southeast Michigan near Lake Erie. Ducks Unlimited, the leader in wetlands conservation, has restored, protected or enhanced more than 81,000 acres of wetlands throughout the state.

These bills will facilitate professional wetland restoration by agencies and organizations best suited to conduct the work of increasing our states precious wetlands, Rep. Howell said.

Because of these bills, more dollars will go toward actual restoration rather than navigating the current regulatory system, said Rep. Bellino. We worked with the DEQ, DNR and restoration organizations like Ducks Unlimited to create, for the first time, a voluntary wetland restoration program in these bills to assist those agencies and groups working on wetland restoration.

Several groups testified in front of the committee and sent cards of support for the bills. Organizations that testified in person include Ducks Unlimited, Michigan Joint Venture Partners, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the St. Clair Flats Waterfowlers and the Clay Township Supervisor. Among the organizations that sent cards of support were Upper Peninsula Sportsmens Alliance, Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermens Association, Straits Area Sportsmens Club, St. Clair River Binational Public Advisory Council, National Wildlife Federation, Upper Black River Council, Six Rivers Land Conservancy and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Conservation in the 21st century will be based on partnerships. These bills are designed to make the wetland restoration process easier for state and federal agencies as well as the many conservation organizations that are doing this work in partnership with them. said Dan Eichinger, Executive Director for the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. We proudly stand with Ducks Unlimited in support of this legislation and commend our sponsors for carrying it forward.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit

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