Michigan Senate’s last-minute bid to kill wetland protections

On Tuesday Dec. 18, the Michigan legislature passed Senate Bill 1211, which if allowed to become law, would rollback protection for many of the state’s wetlands.

These natural areas are critical for clean water and protect communities from floods and drought.

Many of the affected areas are located in Important Bird Areas (IBAs) – an internationally recognized status for places that provide the most critical bird habitat in the state. Audubon Great Lakes is urging Governor Rick Snyder to veto SB 1211.

“There is no way to overstate the benefits wetlands provide for the state of Michigan or the entire Great Lakes region,” said Rebeccah Sanders, National Audubon Society’s Vice President for the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Flyways. “Michigan has already lost more than half of its original wetlands and SB 1211 is a direct threat to the few that remain—that is too high a cost for birds, wildlife, and people. All eyes are on Governor Snyder to do the right thing and protect Michigan’s natural resources.”

All wetlands, whether original, constructed, or managed by people, are important and each one provides a safe place for birds to nest or eat, keep a nearby community safe from floods, or prevent draught.

However, if SB 1211 becomes law, important places such as Maple River State Game Area, Wigwam Bay Marshes, or Mouillee State Game Area—large IBAs that sustain imperiled bird species such as Black Tern, Black-crowned Night-Heron, and Prothonotary Warbler—will be vulnerable.

“Audubon Great Lakes’ analysis shows that SB 1211 is a serious threat to habitat that some of Michigan’s rarest and most vulnerable bird species rely on,” added Sanders. “The state is critical for the health of wildlife and communities and we are calling on Governor Snyder to protect Michigan’s legacy as the ‘Great Lake state’ and not allow SB 1211 to become law. We also call on the 35,000 Audubon members in the state to let the Governor know how important their state’s natural heritage is and urge him to reject this bill.”

Read Testimony of Nathaniel Miller on Michigan’s Senate Bill 1211http://gl.audubon.org/news/testimony-nathaniel-miller-michigans-senate-bill-1211