By MATTHEW HALL
Capital News Service
LANSING – A large gain in the size of Michigan’s coastal wetlands between 2004-09 may obscure much larger, longer-term losses that are likely to continue, experts say. The Great Lakes region gained 13,000 acres in the five-year period, according to a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but much of the gains is due to low levels in the Great Lakes. The report highlighted how the rate of coastal wetland loss across the United States is increasing. Public and private efforts to preserve wetlands have also added small gains, but researchers and state regulators cautioned that those gains need to be put in the context of a long-term overall loss of wetlands in Michigan. Chad Fizzell and his colleagues at the Department of Environmental Quality analyzed inventories of wetland coverage from 1978, 1998 and 2005.