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Battle over public land passed down to local governments

Friends of the Porkies

Some state lawmakers think there’s too much public land in Michigan.

They don’t like how conservation decisions are made and think the state favors environmental goals over uses like logging and ORV trails.

In November, Governor Snyder announced townships and counties would need to approve projects before the state could buy land with the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

The trust fund has been used to preserve beaches and forests all over the state.

But townships in particular have complained about property being taken off the tax rolls, and the state has not always made the payments it promises in place of some tax revenue.

That was one reason why Otsego County commissioners rejected a proposal to add 240 acres to the Pigeon River Country State Forest near Gaylord last month.

They’ll reconsider that decision next week.

But Paul Rose says this could signal more of what is to come. He’s a member of the Pigeon River Country Advisory Council.

Rose says it’s problematic when the sale of private property becomes a political issue in a community.

"The state’s ability to conduct negotiations with the land owner is deeply compromised because all of that’s now public."

Rose expects new public boat launches to be especially rare under this rule. 

He says there's almost never a boat launch built on a lake that's welcomed by the homeowners there.