Joe Bellino and John Cherry.jpg

Michigan Senators Joseph Bellino (left) and John Cherry have been named DU's Legislators of the Year.

Sen. Joseph Bellino and Sen. John Cherry have been honored as Legislators of the Year by Ducks Unlimited (DU). Bellino and Cherry were given the award by DU Board Member and Michigan State Policy Chair Dave Bowers at the third annual Legislative Luncheon for their work on legislation and policy supporting wetland conservation.

“Enjoying Michigan’s great outdoors is a way of life for many families across our state, and no organization is more dedicated to protecting our outdoors than Ducks Unlimited,” said Bellino. “It is a great honor to be recognized by such an outstanding organization, and I look forward to continuing to work with Michigan Ducks Unlimited and its thousands of passionate members across our state to help support conservation efforts on public and private lands benefitting wildlife, enhancing recreational opportunities and supporting Michigan’s robust outdoor economy.”

Sen. Cherry added:

"I'm honored to be recognized as Ducks Unlimited Legislator of the Year. Our partnership in wetland restoration, especially in the Saginaw Bay Watershed, reflects a shared commitment to environmental conservation. Clean water is vital for our communities, wildlife, and economy, and I'm proud to champion efforts promoting cleaner water systems. Wetlands, crucial filters for our Great Lakes, play a fundamental role in this endeavor."

Legislators Honor DU with Wetlands Conservation Week

NEW-Rep. Angela Witwer _ HR 172 Wetland Conservation Week%5B75%5D.JPG

Reps. Angela Witwer (center), Amos O'Neal (left) and Dale Zorn (right) read the Wetlands Conservation Week resolution.

Michigan state legislators announced a resolution earlier this month to honor DU, designating the week of Jan. 28 through Feb. 3 Wetland Conservation Week. Since the late 1930s DU has conserved more than 90,000 acres of wetland habitat in Michigan, investing $55 million on nearly 500 projects statewide. That conservation work has benefited wildlife, enhanced recreational opportunities and supported the state’s economy.

“Ducks Unlimited has been a great partner in conservation and land management for many years,” said Sen. Jon Bumstead. “Together, state government and Ducks Unlimited have accomplished many goals to enhance and protect much of Michigan’s most valuable natural resources. I am honored to have introduced this resolution to help recognize all the work Ducks Unlimited has done and will continue to do in this state.”

NEW- Bumstead%5B65%5D.jpg

Senators Joe Bellino (left), Jon Bumstead (center), and John DaMoose (right) continue to advocate for wetlands restoration in Michigan.

Michigan is investing significantly in the future of Great Lakes water quality and wildlife habitat. The state legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allocated nearly $13 million for state wetland restoration in 2023. The funding is critical to creating healthy wetlands, which filter nutrients before returning water to Michigan’s lakes, rivers, and streams.

A portion of that money will go directly to urban wetland restoration projects. Urban wetlands make cities more livable. With so many paved surfaces in metropolitan areas and fewer places for water to disperse during storms, urban wetlands are important for flood mitigation (a single acre can store 1.5 million gallons of floodwater). Wetlands filter stormwater before it returns to waterways, absorb heat, improve air quality, and provide green spaces for people and wildlife.

For decades, DU has partnered with state agencies to help protect Michigan’s wetlands and is now using a landscape assessment tool to identify and evaluate sites for wetland restoration. This allows nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen to be intercepted and filtered before making it to Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie. 

“This resolution recognizing DU and its achievements in habitat conservation underscores our support for their pivotal role in safeguarding Michigan’s wetlands” Rep. Angela Witwer said. “Healthy wetlands support our communities, wildlife, economy, and overall quality of life in the state — and looking after them will continue to directly benefit us all.