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Environmentalists bristle at tree removal bill passed in state Senate

Photo by Ryan Hafey on Unsplash

Environmentalists are cautioning state lawmakers against legislation about tree and foliage removal. Bills making their way through the state Legislature would prevent local governments from passing ordinances prohibiting their removal in certain areas.

Environmental groups say cities and townships should be allowed to prevent people from cutting down some trees and vegetation in order to protect wildlife, water and the environment.

Sean Hammond is with the Michigan Environmental Council. He says he understands the concern about people’s property rights – but this isn’t the way to address the issue.

“If it even needs to be addressed, it definitely needs a scalpel. This is something local communities should undertake or we should have a potential workgroup kind of dig into this issue. This bill we equate more to a literal chainsaw,” he says.

But Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) says this is about letting people decide what to do with their property.

“Where does this stop? At what point do the local units of government stop demanding or taking through ordinances personal property rights?” he says.

Lawmakers say the legislation was inspired by brothers in Canton, Michigan. They were fined hundreds of thousands of dollars when they didn’t get a permit to cut down trees for a Christmas tree farm.

The legislation now moves on to the state House for consideration.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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