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E-M:/ Pittman Robertson Grant applications: update



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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Comments for the Michigan DNR's four new Pittman Robertson grant applications
were due last Friday.  These grants are given to states to pay for activities
associated with managing birds and mammals, and are derived from a national
tax on firearms, ammunition, and other hunting and fishing equipment.  In
Michigan, this particular set of project proposals represents approximately
$35 million over five years.


The Sierra Club submitted extensive comments and anyone who would like an
electronic copy can just send me a note -- I'll send them in an attached text
file.

While progress was made in preparing the new applications, Sierra Club was
supremely disappointed in the proposals.  For almost two years the Mackinac
Chapter of the Sierra Club has been in discussions with the US Fish and
Wildlife Service and the DNR about severe flaws in the 1995 P-R grant, and in
the late spring DNR agreed to terminate that grant and replace it with four
applications intended to better address the concerns raised.  

What is disappointing is that the new applications are characterized by the
DNR itself as not significantly changing the activities of the MDNR in habitat
management for mammals and birds.  In fact, the details provided simply
confirmed concerns raised in 1995 about the extraordinary bias of the proposed
projects toward overabundant habitat types and species, at the expense of
habitat for rarer species.  Of the four projects, only one is proposed by DNR
to have an environmental review of its consequences. The Sierra Club believes
all of the projects demand environmental review under federal law governing
grants.

The one bright spot is the proposed Ecosystem Planning grant application,
which proposes to develop a framework for Ecosystem Planning for the state.
This project also suffers from some serious flaws, most notably a lack of
timelines and a lack of clarity as to whether this is simply grouping ongoing
activities or will actually begin in earnest a new statewide ecosystem
planning process.  

The next step in this process is for the DNR to finalize the applications and
submit them to the Fish and Wildlife Service, with a tentative deadline of
September 1.  Again, Sierra Club has raised concerns because the final
versions of the applications will not be submitted for additional public
review by the Fish and Wildlife Service.  In fact the Fish and Wildlife
Service Federal Aid office, which oversees these grants, has not sought direct
input at all into this process, casting doubt on the propriety of the process
as a whole.  

I would be curious to know what others provided as comments on these grant
applications as well.  Also, I'll try to keep enviro-mich informed as these
issues continue to unfold.

Anne Woiwode
Sierra Club
Michigan Forest Biodiversity Program
300 N. Washington Sq, Suite 411
Lansing, MI 48933


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