Draft plan would keep Mich. wetlands program alive

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – A state Senate leader is developing a plan to prevent Michigan's wetlands protection program from being axed to save money.

Republican Sen. Patricia Birkholz, who chairs the Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee, told The Associated Press on Wednesday she'll introduce a bill this fall.

It's still on the drawing board. But the plan would use money from a clean water bond fund to keep the program going for three more years. An advisory council would develop a long-term funding source.

The plan also would make changes in how the Department of Environmental Quality evaluates applications for permits to develop wetlands.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has proposed turning wetlands regulation over to the federal government, which would save $2.1 million a year.