Michigan’s Land battle, and why Ohioans should care

As a life long Ohio resident, at least 4th generation native and an alumnus of THE Ohio State University I’ve been taught from birth to hate Michigan. The old saying goes, north ’till you smell it and west till you step in it.

However my own personal theory is that Buckeyes are indoctrinated in this way because if we were taught how beautiful it actually is, none of us would live in Ohio anymore. It’s more a Buckeye-centric protectionist defense mechanism than anything based in fact.

The dirty little reality is, for the elite manufacturing types in my little corner of the world, Michigan has always been the wilderness sporting playground of the north. It’s storied tradition of sporting lifestyle goes back a long way and includes some of my favorite literary moments in the Nick Adams Stories.

Unfortunately that storied tradition of is being eroded away by some slimey legislation in the Michigan State House. A northern Michigan writer, Alex Kain, has a great write up and some contact info for those of you who live in that State Up North and can take action

Why do I care? Not only do I hope to own a small cabin up there SOME DAY, I fish there at least once a year, and Ohio’s Grouse habitat will never support a population that makes it worth your while to be an Ohio Grouse hunter. Let’s save what little grouse habitat we have left, and not turn it over to private ownership for some short-term gain mineral rights. Let’s maintain the heritage of the northern wilderness. We wrecked it once by logging the pants off of it. Lets let it breathe for a while and come into balance, and enjoy it while it does so… Let’s not go in the wrong direction here… stop this BS!

Senate Bill 248, seeks to place an arbitrary cap on the ability of the State of Michigan to acquire any new lands in the future.  The bill is sponsored by legislators from the Upper Peninsula who believe there is too much public land in that part of the state.  Their proposed solution is to have the entire rest of the state also restricted from future land acquisition – despite the constitutional formed Natural Resources Trust Fund, voted on by the citizens of Michigan, which was created to provide means of acquiring land lands for our use.

TU participated in legislative workgroups with the bill sponsors, forestry stakeholders, local municipalities, and other conservation groups – at the request of the House Committee Chair Frank Foster.  We discovered that none of the mentioned impetuses for the bill are actually addressed by the bill!  We’ve proposed substantial amendments to the bill to help address problems and call for a more strategic and transparent approach to state land holdings – but all those attempts have been denied to date.  Now Rep. Foster is planning on moving the bill to committee vote next week on Tuesday December 13th.  For supporters of this bill, its more about politics than about creating good public policy.  Help prevent that from continuing.

TU opposes this bill for the following reasons:

– It will prevent the acquisition of additional state lands in the entire state, including southern Michigan where the majority of people live, and where public lands for recreation are limited.

– It would impact the acquisition of lands needed for providing access the waters of the state – thus preventing access to public trust resources such as coldwater fisheries.

– It seeks to limit or prevent the intended use of the Natural Resources Trust Fund, a legacy created by the citizens of Michigan for the benefit of future generations.

– Its contradictory in that it restricts the purchase of additional state lands statewide, but then offers exceptions for purchase of large tracts of retired commercial forest lands in the U.P. – the very place where the bill sponsors claim there is too much land.

– In the Lower Peninsula, state lands are used so extensively, that user conflict management is becoming a top problem.  If there are already excessive amounts of demand for this type of land for recreation, it does not make sense to prevent the strategic addition of more of it.

– The bill also adds provisions that can force the DNR to dump undesirable state lands onto the market for prices less than fair market value, the results of which will further cripple a struggling real estate market and economy.

– If you want to see our full testimony, visit http://house.michigan.gov/SessionDocs/2011-2012/Testimony/Committee22-10-11-2011-1.pdf

We need you to contact your representative by the end of Monday the 12th, to let them know you oppose SB248 and urge them to as well. It’s bad public policy and should not be given a pass.

Please pass this email along to anyone you know that is an angler, sportsmen, conservationist, or who uses state lands for their recreation or enjoyment.    This one is critical – it’s imperative you take the time to contact your representative.  Below is information for contacting your representative.

Ask Your Representative to Vote “No” on SB248 (Land Cap Bill)

http://www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/  – will identify your representatives contact information

If your representative is listed below as a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation, then your contact with them is even more urgent and critical.

Name District Phone Email Address
Rep. Frank Foster, Chair 107 517-373-2629 frankfoster@house.mi.gov
Rep. Matt Huuki 110 517-373-0850 matthuuki@house.mi.gov
Rep. Holly Hughes 091 517-373-3436 HollyHughes@house.mi.gov
Rep. Joel Johnson 097 517-373-8962 JoelJohnson@house.mi.gov
Rep. Kurt Damrow 084 517-373-0476 kurtdamrow@house.mi.gov
Rep. Peter Pettalia 106 517-373-0833 peterpettalia@house.mi.gov
Rep. Wayne Schmidt 104 517-373-1766 WayneSchmidt@house.mi.gov
Rep. Harold Haugh 042 517-373-0854 haroldhaugh@house.mi.gov
Rep. Tim Bledsoe 001 517-373-0154 timbledsoe@house.mi.gov
Rep. Maureen Stapleton 004 517-373-1008 maureenstapleton@house.mi.gov
Rep. Dian Slavens 021 517-373-2575 dianslavens@house.mi.gov
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