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E-M:/ Status of Michigan Endangered Species efforts

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

Below is a one page analysis of Endangered Species protection efforts in
Michigan today.  As the federal Endangered Species Act comes up for
Congressional Review, it is very important to remember that Michigan's law is
tied into the federal law in many ways, and that virtually ALL funding for
endangered species protection efforts in Michigan comes from federal funds.

Wildlife Need Wild Places:
Michigan Endangered Species Update

The Michigan Endangered Species story is a bittersweet one of dramatic
successes and disturbing neglect; of effective application and squandered
opportunities.  While Michigan was one of the first states to enact an
endangered species act, for more than a decade the Michigan program has
suffered from inadequate funding and political dereliction. A handful of
species have thrived, particularly as a result of federal recovery plans and
coordination among federal and state publi c agencies.  But Michigan's leaders
have not made essential investments needed t o prevent the continuing decline
of many sensitive species and their habitat.

A few success stories are found: the return of the wolf and increasing bald
eagle and Kirtland warbler populations deserve recognition and kudos.  But
not even these species are secure, and more than 450 species on the Michigan
List of Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern and Extirpated Species are
already known to be at risk.  Continuing loss of habitat, pollution, and
destructive activities in natural lands will hold back restoration efforts,
and may lead to the decline of even more native Michigan species. Some of the
most serious problems facing these sensitive species today include:

1) the overwhelming political power of special interest groups such as the
timber industry and the oil and gas industry,

2) inadequate state support for identification and protection of sensitive
species and habitat,

3) the failure to update Michigan's Endangered Species list in accord with
state law, and

4) the conflicting mandate of the Michigan DNR to both protect and develop
natural resources, coupled with continued funding of destructive but not
protective activities.

The Michigan Sierra Club believes that a lack of political leadership for the
past decade and one half from the Governor and the Michigan Legislature have
been largely responsible for the roadblocks facing endangered species     
protection in Michigan today.  This political dereliction is in direct
conflict with a deep, abiding concern for conservation and restoration of
Michigan's special species and their habitat held by the vast majority of
Michigan citizens.  Four specific steps are proposed by Sierra Club to begin
to turn around these problems:

* Complete the update of the Michigan Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern
and Extirpated Species list no later than spring 1998;

* Fund and implement ecosystem planning efforts on Michigan's 4+ million acres
of state lands;

* Fully fund the DNR Natural Heritage Program to identify and protect habitat
for sensitive species on state lands prior to allowing destructive activities
to proceed;

* Vigorously enforce laws to protect natural resources, including assuring the
DNR officials follow the laws and provide sound examples.

By acting to prevent the decline of habitat and species viability, we in
Michigan can help prevent the need for more extreme protection measures in
the future.  Michigan's political leaders should look to the successes in our
state as guideposts for the future, and choose to invest wisely in protecting
and restoring our children's natural heritage.

Prepared by the Mackinac Chapter of the Sierra Club
September 1997

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