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Bill would forbid DNR from preserving biodiversity in forests and parks

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Update: January 15, 2015:

Gov. Snyder has vetoed the legislation.

Original post:

More than 130 scientists and the state’s environmental groups are calling on Gov. Rick Snyder to veto a bill they call anti-science. The bill would forbid the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from protecting native wildlife and plants on the pure merits of protecting nature.

  • The bill would prohibit the Department of Natural Resources from managing state lands for biodiversity.
  • It would prohibit the agency from managing forests for restoration.
  • It would end work to eliminate invasive species.
  • It would strike from the law the finding that most losses of biological diversity are the result of human activity.

Environmental groups are also urging the governor to veto the bill.

“This plan puts at risk the very things that make Michigan’s outdoors very special and that support our diverse tourism, and fishing, and agricultural industries. And it’s bad business for Michigan. It’s very short-sighted. The governor should say no to this,” said Lisa Wozniak with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

Critics of the bill say eliminating protection of biodiversity will end in damage to natural areas, hurt wildlife, and disrupt species native to Michigan.

“Senate Bill 78 is a very short-sighted plan that ignores science and threatens the future of Michigan state forests, its parks, its public land, basically our pure Michigan,” Wozniak added.

The supporters believe managing for biodiversity gets in the way of recreational uses, logging rights, drilling for natural gas, and other economic benefits. They believe the DNR should not interfere with the public's right to use state lands and business rights to use state lands for commercial purposes.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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