Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Michigan Senate Bill Seeks to Restrict DNR's Ability to Manage Lands for Biodiversity

It's not terribly often that legislation as ignorant as this one comes along. Michigan Senate Bill 78 was proposed by Senator Tom Casperson (R) from Escanaba, it seeks to limit the Michigan DNR's ability to manage lands with the purpose of preserving biodiversity. The bill is scheduled to be presented this Thursday morning, February 7th, in front of the state senate, but it could be rescheduled due to pressure from concerned citizens and environmental groups. Here's the raw details of the bill itself:

Senate Bill 78 (as introduced 1-24-13)
r: Senator Tom Casperson
Committee: Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes
Date Completed: 2-1-13


The bill would amend several parts of the Natural Resources and Environmental
Protection Act to do the following:

  • Prohibit the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Natural Resources Commission from promulgating or enforcing a rule or an order that designates or classifies an area of land specifically for the purpose of achieving or maintaining biological diversity. 
  • Delete the conservation of biological diversity from the DNR's duties regarding forest management, and require the Department to balance its management activities with economic values. 
  • Eliminate a requirement that the DNR manage forests in a manner that promotes restoration.
  • Provide that a State department or agency would not have to designate or classify an area of land specifically for the purpose of achieving or maintaining biological diversity.
  • Eliminate the restoration of natural biological diversity from the definition of "conservation."
  • Eliminate a reference to "unusual flora and fauna" in the definition of "natural area."
  • Delete a legislative finding that most losses of biological diversity are the result of human activity.
There are so many holes in the logic of this bill that I don't even know where to begin. As the human population continues to multiply and expand outward, natural areas and habitat for wildlife species are becoming increasingly small and hard to come by. The Michigan DNR's mission statement reads: "The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the State's natural resources for current and future generations." 

Promoting biodiversity, threatened & endangered species, climate change, restoration, and invasive species are all facets of the work that the DNR does in the state. For a long time, a scientifically sound based approach to land management has led to the rebound and stabilization of Michigan's ecosystems and wildlife. Taking a step backward in the way the DNR makes management decisions and removing scientific knowledge from the table is the last thing the state needs moving forward into a future where many environmental concerns & questions remain. Please, take the time to write an email or make a call to any of these state representatives to make your voice heard.

DNR Director Keith Creagh:
Call: 517-373-2329

Tom Casperson: Call: 517-373-7840

Patrick Colbeck: Call: 517-373-7350 
Arlan Meekhof: Call: 517-373-6920 
David Robertson: Call: 517-373-1636, 
Michael Green: Call: 517-373-1777
Darwin Booher: Call: 517-373-1725
Howard Walker: Call: 517-373-2413 

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