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E-M:/ MESA testimony

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

ENVIRO MICH READERS:  Below, for your information, is the testimony provided
by Tim Flynn, a volunteer for Sierra Club, before the Natural Resources
Commission yesterday in Calumet regarding the proposed revisions to the
Michigan Endangered Species List.  At the heart of this issue is the first
true test of the concept of "sound scientific management" of wildlife in
Michigan.  Sierra Club has testified at two hearings before DNR staff,
provided extensive written comments, and now at the NRC on the list, each time
raising the concern that some of the proposed listing decisions are clearly
not based on scientific evidence, in large part because the scientific
information needed to make a good decision has not been collected.  

A decision is to be made shortly by DNR Director K.L. Cool regarding the
proposed rule: he could change the rule before sending it on to the next step
in the process, send it along unchanged, or decide not to proceed with the
rule changes at this time, in effect sending it back to the staff to try
again.  Eventually, in keeping with the rulemaking processes in Michigan, the
proposed rule will be reviewed by the Attorney General and be heard before the
Joint Committee on Administrative Rulemaking, prior to adoption as a rule.

Anne Woiwode

Timothy J. Flynn
Chair, Forest Biodiversity Committee
Mackinac Chapter, Sierra Club

Natural Resource Commission
Calumet, Mi

Subject: Revision of Michigan's Endangered Species List

Dear Commissioners,

We would like to take this opportunity to address the Natural Resource
Commission about our concerns with the Department1s revision of the
Threatened and Endangered Species List.

You should have already received our initial comments to the Director
concerning the Department1s response to the public.   We appreciate the
chance to address the Commission about our continued concerns.  

We are asking the Commission to take action and to correct what are clearly
errors in the revision process.   We are asking the Commission to direct the
Department to correct the following items, which we believe is an
appropriate, conservative course of action.   A conservative course of
action is called for, given the gravity of the issue at hand, and the
potential for politics to over rule sound science in the protection of rare
elements of our living heritage.

We are asking the Director through the Commission to do five things:

1. Keep the American marten on the threatened list.   We feel we have
conclusively shown that the removal of the marten is not based on science
nor data, but instead on assumptions and politics.  Good science should
remain the standard on decisions of such great magnitude, and is the
required standard under the law.

2. Add the Goshawk and the Red-crossbill to the list as recommended by the
expert technical committee.  This would be a conservative measure, adding
protection for these species while the Department does the research needed
to validate the listing, or shows clearly, with appropriate data, that these
two species do not require protection.

3. Request that the Department consider the Lower Peninsula a "significant
portion of a species habitat" for species that have, or have had, a
statewide distribution.   This is the clear letter of the law.  The
Department1s claim that only "statewide" populations count is a misreading
of the law.  The Department1s standard is in fact the writing off the
entirety of the Lower Peninsula as habitat, for any species that also has an
Upper Peninsula population.  Not listing a species who1s Lower Peninsula
population is in trouble, because it1s Upper Peninsula population is secure,
is not supported by law nor by those of us who are not yet willing to give
up on the protection of wildlife habitat in the Lower Peninsula.  

4. Have the Department immediately begin looking at the status of the
northern Lower Peninsula population of Canada yew, to see if it merits
listing,  during the next revision in 2000.   The "statewide" basis argument
for not listing is not valid.  The NLP is a "significant" portion of this
plant1s range and it is clearly under many stresses, deer, forestry
treatments, and changing climate.   The loss of original range in the NLP is
very great.   All these trends argue for the likely hood of endangerment in
the NLP in the foreseeable future.   The Department has a responsibility to
investigate the yew1s status, given this loss of habitat and clear threats.

5. Keep the mammals, at least the Caribou and the Bison on the extirpated
list.  Retaining this part of the extirpated list should be done and is
justified under the same rational that the Department uses to list other
categories of plants and animals as extirpated.   We acknowledge that a list
of extirpated species is not required by law, but by singling out these
mammals for removal, while still listing other species is in fact a decision
that Caribou and Bison are no longer recoverable in Michigan.  Such a
decision is not supported by science or by the citizens of this state.  
Deciding to give up on recovering these species, or in the case of the Bison
treating it only as a farm animal never to be recovered in the wild, should
only be made by the citizens of this state, after an open and public debate..
  The decision should not be made deep within the DNR bureaucracy, away from
any public view.

Thanks you for listening, we look forward to your response.


Timothy J. Flynn

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