This state law (Part 303 of the Michigan Natural Resources Environmental Protection Act)(MCL 324.30301-30323), requires landowners to apply for a permit from the state in order to dredge, fill, drain or construct in wetlands. Permits are only to be approved if they are in the public interest, they are necessary to realize the benefits of the activity, and the activity is otherwise lawful. In general, an applicant must show avoidance of wetland resources to the greatest extent possible and minimization of unavoidable wetland impacts. The law and accompanying regulations describe the application requirements, as well as the criteria of the review process.
The Michigan program is one of two state wetland permitting programs in the country authorized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to administer Section 404 the Clean Water Act, which requires a permit for the filling of wetlands that are waters of the United States. (33 U.S.C. § 1344(a)). The law allows states to assume administration of the “404 Program” so long as the state program meets the minimum standards of the federal statute and is properly approved by the EPA. Michigan’s program was approved in 1984. Under the agreement between Michigan and the EPA, the state can only issue permits that meet or exceed the requirements set out in Section 404 guidelines. Oversight is maintained by EPA review of individual state permits. Currently, the question of whether the state in fact can issue permits independently of the federal 404 program is not legally resolved.
Both the Michigan wetland protection law (MCL §324.30302) and the federal Clean Water Act (16 U.S.C. § 1251) include legislative findings, policy statements and goals that set forth the values and importance of conserving and protecting wetlands.
(Always refer to the most current version of the law, either by checking the compiled laws, or referring to the Legislative Bureau site above.)