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E-M:/ The Ludington School Forest

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

Just wanted to update everyone on the progress in protecting our 
community's "little" 80+ acre forest (see below for my original message 
from 1/20/99), and to thank those of you who have offered invaluable 
support and guidance.

While I have/am attempted/ing a number of "interventions" to address 
this issue, what has been most useful has been to contact key people at 
the DNR, including a fax to the director and to Janet Griffen herself, 
to voice my opposition.  It has also been helpful to contact concerned 
people in my community who I found via the small-town grapevine, one 
particular community member being a very influential person from a 
founding-family of this town, who I think pulled some key strings, and 
who also got the numbers from me as to who to contact at the DNR and 
probably had a lot more power behind her opposition than a small potato 
like me :-).

I called Janet Griffen Friday and, as she wasn't in, left her a message.  
Interestingly, she called me back at 9 a.m. sharp yesterday a.m. to say 
she'd gotten a number of calls and so was referring the situation to the 
"Land Review Exchange Commission" (who had turned down a previous 
request by the school board last June to undo this deed restriction, 
apparently because its request didn't include language stating that the 
land would be used for school purposes).  She said they'll be meeting 
sometime in February and that I could send a letter of opposition to her 
and she'd bring it to that mtg.

Some questions I have, and maybe some of you could help me out: what do 
you think the chances are that this LREC will turn down the school board 
request (i.e. is this referral to the LREC just a move to try to placate 
and quiet the community)?  How is this LREC the same of different from 
the Natural Resources Commission, who is supposed to make the final 
decision (I plan to visit the DNR website to try to answer this for 
myself too)?  Also, someone suggested sending editorials to bigger-city 
newspapers (mine should be in our local paper sometime this week) - does 
anybody know which would be good ones to get into and if I can sbumit 
them via e-mail?  And could some of you *please* write to Janet Griffen 
to support the continued deed restriction?  The address is : DNR Real 
Estate Division, P.O. Box 30448, Lansing MI 48909-7948. 

Thanks again for all your support and for letting me "vent".


Original Message:
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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