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University scientists urge Gov. Snyder to veto bill that restricts DNR


A group of scientists from 13 Michigan universities is urging Governor Rick Snyder to veto a bill (SB 78) if it reaches his desk. 

The bill prohibits the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from setting aside land specifically for maintaining biodiversity. The state Senate has passed the bill. It’s now being considered by the state House.

Bradley Cardinale is an associate professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. He wrote a letter to Governor Snyder and so far, more than 100 of his fellow academics from the state’s universities have signed it.

“There are a number of items in this particular bill that seem anti-science and run counter to the best available knowledge we currently have about how to manage natural resources sustainably.”

In the letter, Cardinale writes that the bill "ignores a large body of scientific evidence that has shown conservation of biological diversity is crucial for maintaining healthy, sustainable ecosystems. Ecosystems with a greater variety of species are generally more efficient and productive, are better able to resist invasions and outbreaks by economically damaging pests and disease, and are more stable in the face of environmental change."

He says it can be unusual for academics to step into the political sphere, but he says he and his colleagues felt this issue was important enough to merit more attention.

“What I would tell the Governor is that if he signs this bill into law, he will be doing so against the best advice of his entire scientific community," he says.

It’s not clear whether Governor Snyder will sign the bill. Snyder says he's familiar with the bill, but ...

"I'm not sure that bill's even required, in terms of someone bringing it up as a topic, in terms of being something that's a serious matter," says Snyder.

Rebecca Williams is senior editor in the newsroom, where she edits stories and helps guide news coverage.
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