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E-M:/ DNR Budget/Timber Mandate Update 3/3/99

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

TIMBER MANDATE!  (NOTE: This is the first step of a multi-step process -- you
will hear about this issue many times over the next few months, so please bear
with us, and also take time to write you state legislators!)

MARCH 3 -- Today the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources
continued their hearing on the FY 00 Budget bill for the Department of Natural
Resources (Senate Bill 370) and took testimony on the language in the bill
regarding mandating timber marking for harvest on State Forest lands (see
alert posted earlier this week for details).  The Subcommittee is expecting to
vote NEXT WEDNESDAY, March 10, so there is still time to contact the five
Senators on the Subcommittee (McMANUS, GAST, HOFFMAN, KOIVISTO and
DeBEAUSSAERT) and let them know that a mandated minimum level of timber
marking on our State Forests is a BAD IDEA, and ask them to remove Section 602
which includes that language.

The Michigan Association of Timbermen has done as we expected, which is to
seek ANOTHER increase in the minimum timber marking level this year, but they
did it in a back door way.  The MAT is reviving an old argument they have used
in the past that Michigan public land owners have an obligation to put up
timber sales in proportion to their percentage of the land base of the state.
The claim has been labelled by its proponents as public lands putting up their
"Fair Share" of timber, and they contend that since the State owns about 20%
of the forest land then they should produce 20% of the timber on their lands
each year.  Not surprisingly, according to MAT applying the 20% currently
would mean that Michigan's State Forests should increase timber cutting to
920,000 cords per year, a 65,000 cord increase over last year, and a 113,000
cord increase over two years ago.

This argument is incredibly bogus for many reasons:

- State Forests are intended to be multiple use ownerships, not solely timber
production lands.  While MAT asks the state to meet their "Fair Share" of
timber production, we expect the timber industry would vehemently object to
efforts to REQUIRE private forestland owners to meet their "Fair Share" of old
growth, campgrounds, fishing access points, wilderness areas, hunting areas,
etc.(some currently receive reduced taxes for providing hunting and fishing
access, but no private owners must provide all of these uses). Public lands
play a unique role in our society, and attempts by MAT and others in the
timber industry to pretend they are nothing but tree farms are totally

- The "Fair Share" idea may appeal to MAT while the major corporations are
cutting on their lands -- will it appeal equally if those lands were put into
a protected status so that no timber management occurred?  In other words, MAT
is suggesting that DNR's timber production be tied to the total timber
production on all ownerships, regardless of whether a large number of owners
decided to suddenly liquidate all their standing timber (which has happened in
other states) or if the owners decided to halt timber production entirely.
"Fair Share" arises only when it means forcing the DNR or other public owners
to cut more timber than the managers would plan to do by simply following
their own management approaches.

- The idea that the largest owner would be required to increase production
every time the market is flooded with excess timber production and to decrease
production every time the supply of timber is reduced is a ridiculous concept
from an economic point of view. Any corporation that managed their assets that
way would be out of business in a matter of months. It also ironically puts a
particular burden on private owners who would be faced with seeing the state
flood the market everytime the private owners wanted to put up more timber.
Yet that is exactly what MAT's plan would require.

If you would like more information about this issue, please contact me and I
will be happy to provide more details!!


Senator George McManus   ph (517) 373-1725  fax(517) 373-0741
Senator Harry Gast       ph (517) 373-6960  fax(517) 373-0897
Senator Ken DeBeaussaert ph (517) 373-7315  fax(517) 373-3126
Senator Don Koivisto     ph (517) 373-7840  fax(517) 373-3932
Senator Philip Hoffman   ph (517) 373-2426  fax(517) 373-2964

All can be written to at Michigan State Senate, P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI


Posted by Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club

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