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E-M:/ Continuing DNR Timber Mandate saga

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

Tuesday afternoon the Senate Approps. Subcommittee on Natural Resources and
Env. Affairs passed out the DNR Budget Bill for FY 99, HB 5591, without
removing the mandated timber marking level of 855,000 cords of timber on
State Forests.  Senator Alma Wheeler Smith again did yeoman service trying to
convince the other members to at least modify the mandate by tying it to acres
instead of cords (ie., require that the DNR manage x number of acres instead
of mark 855,000 cords), and the MDNR representative, Kelli Sobel, accurately
and completely explained when asked why the DNR would prefer such a method.
Unfortunately, Senators Donald Koivisto and Harry Gast were not having any of

Senator Gast spoke about how if they just have to review acres, the DNR
could select areas like the cut over stump plains of the Seney area and end up
with no timber, while Senator Koivisto continued to claim that no timber
cutting in going on on National Forests in Michigan (despite Sierra Club
having provided specific, detailed documentation from the National Forests to
the contrary).  Both Gast and Koivisto again implied a belief that the DNR
would be duplicitous about cutting, which Senator Smith called them on,
pointing out how insulting this was to the DNR. 

One tremendously disturbing item that came out in discussion as well is that
the DNR was on track, under its normal compartment review process, to mark
only 800,000 cords this FY on State Forests, and so DNR Forest Management
Division Chief John Robertson has directed the staff to come up with an
additional 7,000 cords to mark this year.  Since the compartment review is the
ONLY place where any public input is even possible, this means that these
7,000 cords will by necessity be marked WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC REVIEW, and because
of already inadequate review for Endangered and Threatened Species it is
unclear if any of these reviews will be done of the additional acres involved.

What will happen when the mandate goes up to 855,000 cords, if this is allowed
to continue?  Compartment reviews are conducted 2 years before timber sales
are marked and sold -- Where will those additional cords come from?  Where is
the support in the Legislature to allow the members of the public to review
these increases of cutting on State Forests which will NOT have been subject
to public review before?  We have fought for years to get public review, and
the DNR has now started to provide it, but this mandate throws the doors shut
and will force the agency into areas previously NOT considered suitable for
cutting in the first PUBLIC review!!

Please, again, take time NOW to let your State Senator know that this is a
stupid proposal that undercuts sound management of our largest public land
ownership in Michigan!  For more information, please contact Sierra Club at
(517) 484-2372.

Anne Woiwode
Sierra Club

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