In Michigan, a “wetland” is a regulated area and is specifically defined in Part 303 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA).  According to this law, a wetland is “land characterized by the presence of water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances does support, wetland vegetation or aquatic life, and is commonly referred to as a bog, swamp, or marsh.”  Whether an area meets this definition is obvious in some cases and can be determined by inspection.  In other cases, a wetland evaluation by an expert is necessary.

If your property contains a regulated wetland, you must apply for and receive a permit before beginning certain activities, such as:

  • Depositing or allowing the placement of fill material in a wetland
  • Dredging, removal, or allowing the removal of soil or minerals from a wetland
  • Constructing, operating or maintaining any development in a wetland
  • Draining surface water from a wetland.

In an effort to streamline the permitting process, a joint state and federal permit process has been developed between the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for projects which are proposed in wetland areas that are subject to both state and federal jurisdiction.

An expedited wetlands permitting process (general permit) exists for those sites where only minor activities are proposed (for example – construction of small ponds, small boardwalks and platforms, fences, driveways, etc.).

It is important to understand that local governments may also regulate wetlands by ordinance.  These local regulations may impose conditions that are beyond those contained in the joint state and federal permit.  If you need assistance with wetlands permitting issues or have received violations from one or more regulatory agencies, please give us a call.

Attorney to Contact:

Links of Interest:

Michigan’s Wetlands Protection Statute

Michigan’s Wetlands Protection Regulations

Michigan DEQ Wetlands Permits website

State of Michigan Wetlands Map Viewer

Recent News

Nicolas M. Morano, Accomplished Real Estate Attorney, Joins GGTM Law
Posted on February 11, 2019
Gielow Groom Terpstra & McEvoy (“GGTM”) welcomes Nicolas M. Morano, who recently joined the growing ranks of experienced attorneys at GGTM. Nic has more than a decade of experience in counseling businesses and entrepreneurs in complex real estate and corporate matters. As a Mona Shores High School graduate, Nic is excited to transition his practice back home to the Muskegon area after spending the first ten years of his career with a large law firm in Grand Rapids.  Nic’s breadth of experience in a wide variety of real estate and corporate matters is a valuable asset to GGTM and... MORE
Legacy Release Program Funding Completely Allocated
Posted on April 2, 2018
On March 16, 2018, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced that the $36 million in funding earmarked for the Legacy Release Program (LRP) barely 6 months ago (via the passage of Public Act 130 of 2017) has been completely allocated to approved or pending claim submittals. As a result, the MDEQ is not reviewing any additional claims made under the LRP. However, a waiting list of up to 100 more claim applications will be maintained, in the event that current claims do not expend the full approved amount or are otherwise denied. The waiting list information can... MORE
New MUSTA Legislation Enacted
Posted on October 27, 2017
House Bill 4583 was recently signed into law by Governor Snyder.  This Bill creates the “Legacy Release Program”, establishes new options to demonstrate financial responsibility for cleanup fund deductibles, and provides for reimbursement of local units of government (LUG) for certain corrective action costs. The highlights of HB 4583 (now referred to as Public Act 134 of 2017) are outlined below: The Legacy Release Program is created and will be administered by the Michigan Underground Storage Tank Authority (MUSTA). The intent is to provide a mechanism to aid in the completion of corrective actions and to close out “old”... MORE
See More Posts