One of the many great ideas discussed at the NAELS conference in Vermont was local advocacy for riparian buffer ordinances. Oday Salim of the Wayne State Environmental Law Society reports:
Riparian buffers serve as natural boundaries between local waterways and existing development. They help protect water quality by filtering pollutants, sediment, and nutrients from runoff. Other benefits of buffers include flood control, stream bank stabilization, stream temperature control, and room for lateral movement of the stream channel. Many smaller streams that fall wholly within county and/or municipal jurisdictions lack buffers. Federal and state statutes often fail to address this problem, and an effective local solution is a riparian buffer ordinance. The EPA has a model ordinance and helpful tips, and the Huron River Watershed Council recently developed a model ordinance specific to Michigan. Michigan needs riparian buffers (and advocates to make it happen). The Wayne State Environmental Law Society, along with help from the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, plans to work with local jurisdictions to pass riparian buffer ordinances to better protect Michigan’s waterways. For more info, email Jim Roush or Oday Salim.