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E-M:/ The Ludington School Forest
Enviro-Mich message from "Laura Lyons" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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".
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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