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Re: E-M:/ MACKINAC hits Engler's Outdoor Agenda

Enviro-Mich message from JMPaluzzi@aol.com

Hi, Anne...

In today's e-mail posting to enviro-mich, you reference an overview of
Governor Engler's record in the Sierra Club's latest newsletter issue.  One
reference is to his administration's "undermining efforts to secure a natural
heritage license plate, instead seeking to divert funds to undefined
activities in the DEQ."  I have to say I may have inavertently played a role
in "undermining efforts to secure a natural heritage license plate."  You see,
I've been talking up consideration for a special license plate to support
watershed protection efforts to a couple of people over the last six months.  

I was at a Macomb County Blue Ribbon Commission on Lake St. Clair meeting last
August when Secretary of State (and Clinton River Watershed Council Advisory
Board Member) Candace Miller said she would be willing to sponsor a special
license plate to help deal with Lake St. Clair issues.  I slipped her a note,
which said that the State of Ohio has generated alot of income for their Ohio
Lake Erie Program over the years via a special license plate.  I suggested she
contact the Ohio Lake Erie Program director if she was serious about a special
plate in Michigan.  

In October at the Great Lakes Commission's annual meeting, at an evening
reception on Lake Michigan, I worked to make  a chance to bring briefly bring
together Michigan Office of the Great Lakes director Tracy Mehan, Ohio Lake
Erie Program director Jeff Busch (sp?) and State Representative Bill Callahan
to talk about Ohio's experience with special license plates and what types of
programs or initiatives a license plate or a new environmental bond might
support.  I advocated support for watershed-based programs, in both Areas of
Concern and so-called areas of quality, because under a watershed umbrella,
any number of different kinds of local-priority projects could be supported,
from habitat protection to land conservation to enhancing local and statewide
GIS capability to watershed-protection-oriented master planning and zoning
ordinance updates.  

Then, at a Michigan Environmental Council in-service training in Rochester
Hills, I mentioned these conversations to Dave Dempsey.  He told me something
that I had been unaware of: that there had been alot of sensitive discussion
and negotiation about a special license plate for natural heritage protection
awhile ago.  I didn't and still don't necessarily see a conflict between
natural heritage and watershed protection goals, but then again I've never
been very active in statewide politics. (By the way, Ohio and Indiana both
have more than one special license plate.)  Dave followed up almost
immediately with a call to me, saying the DEQ's legislative liaison was
looking to proposing some special license plate language for the Legislature
to consider.  I'm embarrassed to say I didn't follow up, because of some
significant program demands and organizational changes occuring at my office
at the time.

So... in terms of Governor Engler undermining efforts for a natural heritage
license plate for undefined DEQ activities, if I've had any impact, then he
and his staff were only listening to one of his constituents.  Personally, I'm
hoping we all can come up with a common agenda for protecting our beautiful
state's natural resources.  I'm hoping that special license plates and
environmental bonds and effective regulatory programs and market-based
incentives and just a fundamental stewardship ethic and sense of community can
all play roles in doing so.  And I'm hoping we can do it soon, because (1) the
last remaining naturally spawning brook trout stream in southeast Michigan is
found in my watershed, (2) alot of local people enjoy flyfishing, canoeing and
hiking along the Clinton, which flows through the backyards and parks of
Republicans and Democrats and independents in 40+ communities, and (3) if
projections of urban sprawl do in fact translate to impervious surface and
inadequate on site stormwater management, my entire river basin is going to
get blown out of its banks over the next 20 years (and probably sooner than
that if the construction equipment moving around here is any indication).

I've already offered to Tracy my congratulations and support regarding the
proposed bond.  I'd be happy to support a special license plate that will
generate funds to help us fill a program gap.  Who wants my extra $20 in
license plate fees?

Jeanna M. Paluzzi
Executive Director (Acting)
Clinton River Watershed Council

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