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Do I Have A Wetland On My Property?

July 1, 1997 | By Hans Voss
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

Many property owners are confused about the technical definitions of wetlands. This is understandable given the variety of wetlands in Michigan and the fact that many wetland types look different than our traditional conception of a wetland (which is typically a cattail marsh). Below are a few questions that you can ask yourself about your land. A YES answer to any of the questions may indicate that you have a wetland on your property.

*Is the ground soggy underfoot in the spring?

*Are there depressions where water pools on the ground surface during the spring?

*Do you avoid the area with heavy equipment for fear of getting stuck?

*Would you need to ditch the site to dry it out?

*Is the site in a depression that has a different vegetation community than the higher ground around it?

*Are there groundwater seeps or springs present?

*Are fallen leaves black or very darkly stained and contain sediment deposits on their surfaces?

*Dig a hole. Is the soil gray, or contain bright mottles (red or orange) against a gray background?

*If farmed, is there crop stress due to excessive water?

*Does the National Wetland Inventory map, U.S.G.S. topographical map, or locally produced wetland inventory map show a wetland on your property?

*Does the NRCS Soil Survey for your county show the soil on your property to by hydric, poorly, or very poorly drained?

Reporting a Wetland Violation

The Department of Environmental Quality does not have enough staff members to monitor all of Michigan's wetlands. In many instances, citizens play an important role in reporting violations.

If you suspect a violation, first find out as much as possible about the wetland activity before making a report. If you have reason to believe that there is a violation of wetlands law, contact the Department of Environmental Quality. Follow the phone call with a letter to make sure you have a written record of the report. If you wish, you can make your complaint anonymously.

The contact for Benzie County is: Matt Johnstone Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Land and Water Management Division 120 West Chapin Street Cadillac, MI 49601 616-775-3960, ext. 6362

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