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E-M:/ Sierra Club statement on timber mandate in DNR budget

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

For Immediate Release: April 23, 1998
Contact: Anne Woiwode 517-484-2372

Sierra Club Statement:

On April 22, Earth Day, the House Appropriations Committee passed legislation
that mandates that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources mark no less
than 855,000 cords* of timber for logging on Michigan's 3.9 million acres of
State Forest lands in FY 1999.  The Sierra Club condemns this provision as
kowtowing to the timber industry, and calls on Michigan House members to
remove of this language from the DNR Budget on the floor of the House.

The legislated timber mandate would override consideration of impacts of
logging on wildlife habitat, recreational facilities and trails, and sensitive
areas, ignore market forces by putting timber up regardless of demand, and
pressure foresters in the DNR to put up lower value, less value-added wood
products just to meet the mandated floor.  If the Legislature passes this
provision, it will also send a clear message to Michigan Citizens that logging
is endorsed by Michigan's Legislature as the only activity of value in
Michigan's State Forests.

A timber mandate, advocated strongly by lobbyists for the timber industry,
was added to the DNR Budget in FY98 for the first time in Michigan history.
Last year concerns about decreased staff resulting from early retirements in
the DNR Forest Management Division were cited as the rationale for a timber
marking floor.  This year the mandated floor proposed has been raised  6%
(from 807,000 cords), with no provisions for funding for additional staff or
to address the interests of users other than the timber industry on these
public lands.  Timber industry lobbyists sought a floor of 1 million cords
originally for the FY99 budget.  The only other place such a floor on timber
production is known to exist in the United States is in the Tongas National
Forest in Alaska, where Alaskan Congressional members during the Reagan
administration forced through timber production levels tied to timber
industry demands.

Michigan's State Forests are where families go hiking, hunting, camping, cross
country skiing or to watch wildlife, where berry and mushroom pickers search
for their treats, where church and school groups go canoeing, and where
future generations of Michiganders will recreate and enjoy the outdoors.
State Forests are an essential part of Michigan's tourism industry, providing
the backdrop that brings visitors from all over the country to our state.  By
mandating this floor on marking trees for logging, Michigan's Legislature is
telling Michigan's citizens that their interests come second to those of
Michigan's timber industry.

The Mackinac Chapter of the Sierra Club, representing Michigan's 15,000 Sierra
Club members, calls on the members of the Michigan House of Representativ es
to remove the timber marking mandate from the Michigan DNR Budget when the
bill comes to the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives.


* 855,000 cords of timber is equivalent to 40,000 full logging truckloads, or
the timber from approximately 51,220 acres of Michigan forest land that have
been clearcut.

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