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E-M:/ The Ludington School Forest in Peril

Enviro-Mich message from "Laura Lyons" <laura_lyons@hotmail.com>

The Ludington school board is under some pressure from the public to 
improve the school facilities, but are also under some financial 
constraints.  In a disconcerting article in the local paper yesterday 
(Ludington Daily News), I learned that the school board approved a plan 
destroy some or maybe all of the cherished "School forest."

The School Forest is 100 acres of forestland that the school district 
obtained nearly 60 years ago, in 1940, from the MI Dept of Conservation 
for $1, with the stipulation in the deed that restricts the use of the 
land to reforestation projects.  This forest has remained largely 
untouched except for some pathways for recreational use and for our 
school's cross country team's pathways.  This parcel is right in town 
and is truly an "greenway" in our small city.  Certainly we have some 
other, much larger, more extensive natural areas nearby, such as our 
state park and national park, but to lose our little "urban gem" would 
be a sad, irrevocable loss.

What is especially upsetting from yesterday's article is a quote from 
Janet Griffen, property analyst for the MI DNR, who said she'd forward 
the school board's request to the Natural Resources Commission, and that 
"...she expects the commission to approve the change.  'I don't think 
there will be any problem,' she said.  'They can use it for any type of 
school purpose...anything they want.'"  This offhand way of completely 
disregarding a vitally important agreement is sadly reminiscent of 
certian other treaties broken over the past 100 years or so in this 
country that have destroyed irreplaceable lands and cultures.

Apparently the superintendent is thinking of using the forest for parks, 
playgrounds and school buildings.  This land is already a natural park 
and playground, and I used it as such as a child growing up in this 
town.  As for school buildings, the district has many other options they 
could consider other than ruining this priceless community resource.  

Today's paper had an encouraging editorial from one of our newspaper's 
columnists, but I feel much more could and needs to be done to 
discourage and stop this reckless idea.  I am asking for any advice or 
support I can get from you in order to preserve this natural heritage in 
our community.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Laura Lyons MSW

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