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E-M:/ Timber industry at it again



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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TIMBER INDUSTRY SEEKING GUARANTEED TIMER MARKING ON MI STATE FOREST LANDS -
MICHIGAN STATE FOREST BEING TURNED INTO TREE FARMS 

Last year, for the first time ever, the Michigan Legislature set a minimum
level of marking for timber sales on Michigan's State Forests, that
is they REQUIRED the DNR to set up timber sales regardless of demand
for the wood, regardless of price, regardless of whether the wood to
be cut had any place in an overall Forest Plan.  This is something I am not
aware of happening anywhere else in this region if in the country at all,
ever.  The Legislature was responding to overblown fears from the timber
industry that the early retirement of staff from Michigan DNR's Forest
Management Division would result in a failure to meet reasonable timber
cutting levels off the 4 million acres of State Forests.  While the concern
was ridiculous, the Legislature agreed to place a mandate on the MDNR FMD to
mark timber sales for at least 807,000 cords of wood. That level was agreed to
because it approximated the amount of timber cut in the previous year on MI
state forest lands.

This year, despite the ebbing of concerns about early retirement, the timber
industry is looking to up the ante even more, coming to Legislators asking
that the minimum marking levels be raised to 1,000,000 (that is ONE
MILLION) cords of wood!  In the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural
Resources and Environment, Legislators are thinking of it as a
compromise to talk of setting a level almost six percent higher than last year
-- at 855,000 cords of wood.  

The 1,000,000 cords of wood evidently comes out of timber industry
calculations, with the bizarre calculus that takes into account nothing of
value in the forests other than pulp and board feet.  This assertion is based
on the assumption that the only thing Michigan citizens get out of our State
Forests is wood products, and low quality, high volume ones at that.  MI State
Forests are where millions of people recreate, they are the places where
hunters can go without asking permission, where families can camp, picnic,
hike or canoe without needing to worry about being kicked off the lands, where
future generations have a chance of seeing rare species and enjoying native
habitat, and where water quality and clean air are byproducts of good healthy
ecosystems.  

To add absurdity to insult, this method of mandating a minimum cut out of our
state forests creates the perverse incentive to the DNR Foresters to pick the
least value stands for marking, and to violate their own direction to try to
improve management of our State Forest lands by taking into consideration all
of the factors that should be considered in managing these lands.  The
problems of management on the State Forests is NOT the lack of production of
timber -- it is the idiotic decisions by the Engler Administration to reduce
staff arbitrarily, to undercut planning efforts by failing to fund those
efforts, and to prevent the expenditure of funds ALREADY IN DNR HANDS FROM
TIMBER MANAGEMENT IN THE PAST to assure GOOD MANAGEMENT of our forests.
Sierra Club has long been an advocate for assuring public input into the
management as well, and we have disagreements about how the DNR wishes to
manage, but the attempt by the timber industry to force the DNR to come up
with wood to sell, REGARDLESS of the long term consequences to our publicly
owned forests is outrageous.

The efforts by the Michigan timber industry to increasingly turn our public
lands into tree farms is appalling, and unfortunately they seem to be
succeeding in convincing many Michigan Legislators that guaranteeing that AT
LEAST 855,000 cords of wood should be marked for cutting on these lands!

WHAT YOU CAN (AND SHOULD!!) DO:

The Michigan House Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and
Environmental Quality SHOULD HEAR THAT MICHIGAN CITIZENS DON'T WANT THE TIMBER
INDUSTRY CALLING THE SHOTS ON HOW MUCH WOOD SHOULD BE CUT IN MICHIGAN'S STATE
FORESTS!!!  Please contact ALL OF THE MEMBERS of the Subcommittee AS SOON AS
POSSIBLE (No later than midweek next week) AND URGE THEM TO REMOVE ENTIRELY
THE BOILERPLATE MANDATING THAT THE MDNR FOREST MANAGEMENT DIVISION MARK ANY
LEVEL OF TIMBER SALES!!

House Appropriations Subcommitteo n Natural Resources and Environmental
Quality members:

Chairman Paul Tesanovich (D-L'Anse)  517-373-0850
V. Chair Derrick Hale (D-Detroit) 517-373-1705
Lynn Owen (D-Newport) 517-373-2617
Hubert Price (D-Pontiac) 517-373-0475
Minority V.Chair Bill Bobier (R-Hesperia) 517-373-0825
Patricia Godchaux (R-Birmingham)  517-373-0824

ALL CAN BE WRITTEN TO AT: Michigan House of Representatives
                          State Capitol
                          PO Box 30014
                          Lansing, MI  48909-7514

for more information contact Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club



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