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MEC lauds Snyder for protecting biodiversity with veto pen

Governor sides with Michigan scientists, upholds key ecosystem protections
Jan 15, 2015
January 15, 2015

The Michigan Environmental Council today hailed Gov. Rick Snyder's veto of Senate Bill 78, a misguided piece of anti-science legislation that would have blocked state agencies from designating land to protect biological diversity.

"Gov. Snyder's decision today shows a respect for and understanding of science, and honors Michigan's heritage as a conservation leader," said Chris Kolb, MEC president. "Rather than letting anti-science fear steer our state policy, this veto ensures that our state's trained biologists, ecologists and foresters can continue to take a holistic approach to the management of our public lands and the diversity of plants, animals and natural resources they provide."

SB 78 would have undermined the scientific principles that have long been the foundation of land management in Michigan. Among other changes, it would have amended the definition of "conservation" in the state's 1994 Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, removing key provisions regarding population distribution and the "continued existence" of native species and communities. It also would have removed the conservation of biodiversity from the forest management duties of the Department of Natural Resources and required the department to balance its ecosystem management activities with economic values.

The bill's sweeping language would have impaired the state's authority to implement Endangered Species Act protections, made it far more difficult for the DNR to control the spread of invasive species, and jeopardized certification of our state forests as sustainably managed.

"This veto helps maintain Michigan's image as a place where people respect and appreciate the natural environment," Kolb said. "That will help attract and retain the bright young scientists and resource managers we need to steward our state's rich, diverse and often imperiled natural communities and ecosystems."

A group of 133 scientists from Michigan universities told the governor that SB 78 "ignores a large body of scientific evidence that has shown conservation of biological diversity is crucial for maintaining healthy, sustainable ecosystems" in a 2013 letter urging him to veto the bill.

"Biodiversity means healthy, functioning ecosystems and productive, resilient forests," Kolb said. "I'm glad the governor has made sure Michigan's professional resource managers are able to protect biodiversity and all its benefits for future generations."

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