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E-M:/ Pere Marquette Forest...

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

Regarding the sale of land on the Pere Marquette State Forest:

While I am not noted for giving the DNR credit on many fronts, on the land
sale in the Pere Marquette State Forest I will point out that this forest is
only one of two out of the six in state that has a State Forest Plan, and that
in fact this action is evidently consistent with that Plan.  Section J, "Land
Ownership and Administration" on pages 64 & 65 of the PMSF Plan (adopted in
1994) discusses the overall issue of what lands the State should own in this
area, discusses the options for acquisition and disposal, and notes that
"Public Act 86 of 1989 allows for the disposal of surplus state lands and the
purchase of private lands without going through a land exchange process.
There is a $500,000 cap per fiscal year."  I do wonder how close the sale of
2,800 acres comes to that $500,000 per year, and also wonder if that is a
statewide cap or just a cap for the PMSF.

The numerous complaints and concerns about the outright sale of land are no
less valid, however, because the PMSF Plan fails in this case and throughout
to offer ready and consistent opportunities for public review and input on
many decisions effecting the forest.  There is a Friends of the Forest Group
for the Pere Marquette, and if their meeting in the spring reviewed this sale
then at least there would have been some public review.  Otherwise, unless
these were dealt with in the Compartment Reviews, the public has no
opportunity to have a say.  Since the PMSF Plan notes the criteria, some of
which are subjective ("whether better hunting or fishing opportunities will be
provided or habitat protect" or "whether recreation or timber opportunities
are improved") it seems that the DNR Forest Management Division should assure
that they ask the public what they think of an exchange or sale of land.  This
is routinely done by the Forest Service, allowing people who are familiar with
the lands to be disposed of to have some input on this kind of decision.

Consolidating state forest lands is often a good choice, and with limited
funds trades and perhaps sales may make sense.  But this is public land and
the public should be allowed to have a say in those decisions.  Precedents of
lousy trades of federal lands in other parts of the country in particular have
left many of us concerned about choices being made.  As with so many things
in the way the State Forests are managed, the opportunity to shine some
sunlight into the process will inevitably lead to better community and public
relations, and even if the best choices in the world are made, the fact that
people don't know what is going on is a sign of failing to serve the public's

Anne Woiwode
Sierra Club

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