Association of State Wetland Managers - Protecting the Nation's Wetlands.

The Compleat Wetlander: Acquiring Greater Expertise on State Programs and Wetlands of the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are a diamond on the hand of North America,
Brightly shining jewel on the friends they’re bordering.
Blue water highway, coming down from Canada,
All along their coast lines you can hear them sing.
–Great Lakes Song

Working nationally on wetland issues one gets to know a lot of people and as the years pass the number grows ever larger.   People who start as professional acquaintances become professional friends and these friendships can span decades.  It is one of the most enjoyable aspects of working in any profession that attracts intellectually curious, dedicated individuals.  Wetlands certainly do.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard wetland professionals share anecdotes about how their political appointees or elected officials “cannot believe how much of their time is taken up with wetland issues.”  It’s true for several reasons.  First an individual person who needs a permit for an activity on his or her land may discover that filling and altering wetlands or streams is very costly and has a much larger impact on their pocketbook than other forms of environmental protection such as an extra $200 added to the price of a car for additional pollution controls or incremental increases in sewer bills.  Second, the public notice process for permits may be leveraged by nearby landowners or interest groups to try to stop or change an unwelcome project.  Third, altering the path of water has complex and often damaging consequences.   Water collects on the landscape in wetlands, ponds and lakes, sinks into the soil to become groundwater, evaporates, or flows downhill into streams, rivers, etc.  When individuals alter where water is stored and flows, water pollution, erosion, flooding, drought and habitat loss are all possible consequences.  Fourth, the programs are difficult to understand because of complicated exemptions, indecisive court cases, evolving science and rapidly changing technology that is employed to alter wetlands and waterways.  These factors can and sometimes do create a ‘perfect storm’ of controversy.

Individuals with the insight and experience to cut through the controversy and find sensible solutions are a necessity.  Therefore I am very happy that Peg Bostwick joined the staff of the Association of State Wetland Managers in January.  She recently retired from the Michigan Department of Resources and Environment, where she worked on wetlands and water issues for many years.  She will lead the new Great Lakes office of ASWM.

I’ve known Peg for 20 years.  I cannot remember exactly where and when we met.  It might have been at a conference or perhaps on a reconnaissance of a permit site in Michigan.  But like many people I came quickly to respect her insights and ideas.   When Peg talked, people listened.  She is thoughtful, highly knowledgeable and well-reasoned.

Over the years Peg has been generous with her time providing advice and assistance to wetland managers all over the country while administering Michigan’s wetland program.  Now she’ll be helping people around the country through ASWM.

One of her first activities will be to work with the recently formed Michigan Wetlands Association to hold a statewide conference in Traverse City, Michigan August 30-September 2, 2011 at the nearby Grand Traverse Resort. or The rest of the time she will be working on projects designed to help us all navigate successfully through those ‘perfect storms.’

Welcome Peg!

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