Fishing and hunting are common in wetlands. The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, pictured here, on the western shore of Lake Erie, is one of the most popular state-managed waterfowl hunting areas.

Fishing and hunting are common in wetlands. The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, pictured here, on the western shore of Lake Erie, is one of the most popular state-managed waterfowl hunting areas.

Photo provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources


Local wetlands play big role in ecosystem

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 12, 2018

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Wetlands are an integral part of any ecosystem — they filter water and are home to many species of animals. 

Michigan is home to about 3 million acres of wetlands throughout the state, and more than 1,500 of those acres are in the West Bloomfield area. 

Wetlands provide flood storage, groundwater recharge, wildlife habitat, pollution filtration and erosion control. 

“(Wetlands) help to filter our water, which makes our water supplies cleaner,” said Holly Vaughn, wildlife communications coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “They also hold stormwater, helping to lessen the impact of heavy rains and to reduce flooding.” 

Wetlands also provide a habitat for native wildlife. About 25 percent of mammals, 50 percent of birds, and all reptiles and amphibians in Michigan use wetlands, according to the DNR. 

Vaughn said that in addition, wetlands help to recharge groundwater, which can improve the quality of drinking water, and help to stabilize shorelines of ponds and lakes. 

Due to early settlers destroying and filling in wetlands, wetlands today are protected and many local organizations work to conserve them. 

“It is up to all of us to help protect the remaining wetlands and even establish or restore wetlands in areas where they may have existed before,” said Vaughn.  

In the early 1800s, settlers in Michigan would drain and fill wetlands, particularly in the Detroit area, in order to make the land more suitable for farming and building roads. By doing this, they destroyed over half of the state’s original wetlands. 

In 1979, Michigan’s Legislature passed the state’s wetland protection statute that recognizes the benefits and value of wetlands and requires permits for construction in and around wetlands. 

Now organizations from the state level to the local level work together to conserve wetlands. The DNR has conserved over 56,000 acres of wetland habitats through the North American Wetland Conservation Act, which gives grants for projects throughout North America. 

The DNR also works with the Michigan Municipal Wetland Alliance, an organization that helps cities preserve wetland habitats. 

West Bloomfield itself has taken on efforts to preserve local wetlands. 

John Roda, environmental manager for West Bloomfield, said that the township has several ordinances that his department, along with the township’s Environmental Commission, enforces. 

These ordinances include wetland protection, environmental features setback, erosion control and fertilizer control. 

“They are all designed to protect wetlands,” he said. “(These ordinances) provide the protection for the conservation for the habitats. We also perform wetland determination for development purposes, so we make sure they’re identified properly.” 

To be considered a wetland, an area needs to have certain types of soil, plants and animal life that are unique to wetlands. Different types of wetlands include marshes, swamps and bogs. 

“What benefits they provide are based on what functions they provide,” said Roda. “You may have a wetland with all invasive species in it, but it is a good value for stormwater control and flood control. ... They have economic value and they provide beauty.”