February 4, 2013Legislation is scheduled for action in the Senate that restricts the ability of the Department of Natural Resources to consider “biodiversity” when managing state forest lands. SB 78 would amend the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Act 451 of 1994).
Specifically, the bill would amend PART 355 (Biological Diversity Conservation) and Part 525 (Sustainable Forestry on State Forestlands) to do the following:
- Revise the definition of "conservation" with regard to biological diversity, removing key provisions regarding restoration, distribution and the “continued existence” of native species and communities.
- 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, and provide that no other state agency would be required to do so either.
- Eliminate a requirement that the DNR manage forests in a manner that promotes restoration.
- Delete a legislative finding that most losses of biological diversity are the result of human activity.
Michigan is blessed with a wide variety of native plant and animal species and communities. These are an asset that must be actively protected. The stewardship of threatened and endangered species, the protection of functioning natural communities, and the restoration of native plants and wildlife are concepts that date back more than 100 years in Michigan.
The DNR is right and justified in deploying the best scientific and professional expertise and strategies to ensure “the continued existence and normal functioning of native species and communities” in Michigan, i.e., in undertaking active biological conservation or managing for biodiversity.
Protecting, enhancing, and restoring Michigan’s biological diversity (including ecosystem, species, and genetic diversity) is a completely logical and scientifically sound management tool. It protects the natural communities and native plants and animals of Michigan, and ensures a healthy and robust natural system for this and future generations.
Biological diversity is a fundamental part of a mission that lies at the foundation of Michigan’s long tradition of strong and responsible public land management. Managing lands for biodiversity and ecosystem health and genetic resilience ensures that our forests can survive new invasive species, such as emerald ash borer, and our fisheries can withstand diseases such as VHS.
Biodiversity, as a management tool for enhancing and restoring Michigan’s native natural ecosystems, is entirely in keeping with the idea of the Michigan’s agencies are stewards of the public trust, and the caretakers of Michigan’s abundant natural beauty and healthy ecosystems.
On the floor:
SB 51 – A bill to modify the qualified forest property tax program.
SB 52 – A bill to revise exemptions and the definition of qualified agricultural property.
SB 53 – A bill to modify the qualified forest property recapture tax.
SB 54 - The bill would amend the Qualified Forest Property Recapture Tax Act to redirect recapture tax proceeds from the General Fund to a proposed Private Forestland Enhancement Fund.
SB 55 – A bill to revise exemptions and the definition of qualified agricultural property.
SB 56 – A bill to require of the departments of agriculture and rural development and natural resources to promote forestry and the development of the forest products industry in the state.
SB 57 – A bill to expand the Michigan agriculture environmental assurance program to include lands not utilized for traditional or production agriculture such as forest management.
SB 58 – A bill to revise the penalties for moving land from the Commercial Forest Act to the Qualified Forest Act.
Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes will meet on Thursday (2/7) at 9:00 am to take up:
- SB 78 – A bill to prohibit by DNR from designating or promoting biodiversity diversity and limits biological diversity from list of state forest management goals.
On the floor:
Energy and Technology will meet on Tuesday (2/5) at 9:00 am for an overview of the electric industry in Michigan and the establishment and history of the electric choice program from Jacqueline Langwith and Kevin Studebaker, Legislative Service Bureau (LSB).
Natural Resources will meet on Wednesday (2/6) at noon for a presentation given by Director Keith Creagh, Department of Natural Resources.
James Clift, Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
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