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E-M:/ Sylvania Resolution in Michigan House


In a tireless display of misplaced self-interest, it appears that the primary
protagonist in the fight over motorboats on Crooked Lake in the Sylvania
Wilderness in the Ottawa National Forest has found yet another forum in which
to present her tale of woe and intrigue.  House Concurrent Resolution 35 was
introduced on April 15th into the Michigan Legislature by State Representative
Allen Lowe (R-Grayling) that carries forward the continued claims of Kathy
Stupak-Thrall that she and her family are the victims of bullies in the
Forest Service who are allegedly imposing undue burdens on their personal

While Ms. Stupak-Thrall is consistent, she is also consistently wrong, and
this resolution demonstrates once again an apparent willingness to abandon
facts that do not support her goal, and to fabricate information that will do
a better job of bolstering her wishes.

Specific points in the resolution, and rebuttal:

- HCR 35 claims that the recent court case Stupak-Thrall vs. U.S. which
addresses federal regulation of activities in this National Forest area has
"upset the balance of state-federal authority" and threatens to "limit
severely Michigan's ability to regulate the activities and monitor the rights
of Michigan residents living adjacent to the 3.5 million acres of federal land
within Michigan's borders."
    This claim is patently absurd.  The case or cases referred to
(Stupak-Thrall filed two cases -- the second was filed in different court
after she failed to get what she wanted in the first) had nothing to do with
the state's rights to exercise authority over federal lands.  The relationship
of state law and federal lands is extremely well established in the law
already.  There HAS been some controversy in the last decade over whether or
not the state DNR could stock fish in lakes in designated wilderness areas
using motorized boats, since these are non-motorized lakes, but that has
nothing to do with Ms. Stupak-Thralls claims.  This is a new claim tailor made
for the audience, obviously designed to try to garner sympathy with Michigan
Legislators unfamiliar with the issue.

- HCR 35 claims that by designation as wilderness, that "an area of land that
surrounds tracts of privately owned property became part of the Sylvania
Wilderness Area," and that the Forest Service "began enforcement of
restrictions that took away the rights of private owners. The effect of the
restrictions was to abolish many specific property rights for owners"
     Its a sad story, but it ain't true. First, anyone who can read a map
knows that the private property was very painstakingly left out of the
wilderness area, all of which is to the south of the private property and in
no way "surrounds" it, and that the boundary line was drawn across the
northernmost node of this long skinny lake so that Ms. Stupak-Thrall and her
neighbors would not ever have to worry about whether they were drawn in or
IN ANY WAY.  The problem is, Ms. Stupak-Thrall has clearly come to view her
riparian access to Crooked Lake as giving her total unregulated access to this
lake which is more than 90% within wilderness designation, and is upset,
reportedly, that she cannot pursue water skiing on this lake within the
wilderness boundary.  In fact, reportedly the ONLY time the Forest Service has
actually ticketed people for violating the regulations on the wilderness
portion of the lake was when Ms. Stupak-Thrall's husband chased down a ranger
with his motor boat and threw cans at him until a ticket was issued.  Now the
claim is made that the Forest Service ticketed Mr. Thrall for simply having a
pop can in his boat.

- HCR 35 says that "whereas judicial relief in this matter has proven elusive.
Actions in federal court have not reversed Forest Service authority that
ignores all riparian rights granted in state law, including fishing and
     Perhaps Ms. Stupak-Thrall believes that if she repeats it enough it will
be true, but the simple fact of the matter is that there are no additional
restrictions on swimming and fishing for her and her neighbors than there are
on any other person in the world, and in fact their riparian access gives
them additional rights.  There have been repeated claims that Forest Service
regulations have prevented the private owners from swimming in front of their
houses, which is a flat out lie.  There are in fact restrictions on fishing
that reflect the unique nature of the fisheries in this lake, but those are
uniformly applied and have nothing to do with the Forest Service wilderness

- HCR 35 in effect calls into question the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme
Court in declining to review this case after Stupak-Thrall lost at the
District and Appellate levels.
     In the event no one noticed, the current Supreme Court is barely the
bastion of radical thought on property rights.  They declined to hear this
case because it had no merit and because the lower courts had dispensed
appropriate justice.  The perpetual effort to try to seek a new forum for
raising her personal vendetta against the Forest Service is clearly what has
motivated Ms. Stupak-Thrall to push for this resolution in one more forum.

The absolute pity of this is that Ms. Stupak-Thrall's obsession with this
issue and her absolute disdain for using accurate and complete information has
snagged one more group of people into rallying to her defense.  If this
resolution comes up, perhaps it will allow us to present the truth of this
issue to the Michigan legislature. Even then, it is clear this issue will not
be put to rest because what motivates this crusade clearly will not be
addressed regardless of how much factual information is presented in any

Anne Woiwode

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and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.

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