Until recently, one of the most undervalued resources in Michigan has been the wet areas with plants (often called swamps, marshes or bogs, including edges of lakes, streams and rivers). St. Joseph County has been fortunate to have a large number of such wetlands, which support fish and wildlife, protect water quality, and provide flood control in areas where they are managed with sound ecological actions.
Almost half of the wetlands that were present at the time Michigan became a state have disappeared due to dredging, filling or other construction activities, yet nearly 35% of the land area of Fabius Township is presently considered to be valuable wetlands. This means that a large number of parcels in the township contain areas that are under Federal, State or local protection and permits must be obtained by land owners before any construction near or alteration of the wetlands occurs.
Fabius Township is also fortunate to have citizens who respect the importance of protecting these valuable assets, although education is so important for landowners to appreciate the resources they may have on their property. To this end the Fabius Township Wetlands and Environmental Preservation Committee has prepared a cover letter to be sent to the nearly 1,500 property owners in the township who are believed to have protected wetlands on their parcels.
Included in the mailing will be a brochure prepared by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality titled: “A Property Owner’s Guide to Wetland Protection in Michigan”. This mailing will inform residents on how to tell if there are wetlands on their property, how the wetlands are regulated in the state and township, what permits are needed before alterations are made in or near the wetlands, and what happens if permits are not obtained before alterations are made to protected areas. Residents will also learn that contractors who alter wetland areas without the required state or township permits are as liable to disciplinary action as the landowner on whose parcel changes are made.
Any resident who does not receive the mailed packet by February 1, 2011, may pick one up at the Fabius Township Hall.
To view the wetlands letter, click here.
Source: News release from Fabius Township Wetlands & Environmental Preservation Committee
Editor’s Note: The Fabius Township Board approved the letter and authorized the mailing during its monthly meeting on January 12th.