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E-M:/ PRESS RELEASE- Legislators go for walk in the woods

Enviro-Mich message from "Tamilyn H. Sanderson" <sirdufus@freeway.net>

For Immediate Release
For more information contact:

Tamilyn H. Sanderson, State Coordinator                         Tim Flynn
REP America
Sierra Club

REP America and the Mackinaw Forest Council Host a Walk in the Woods with
State Legislators

Petoskey, MI  August 24, 1999 --  Yesterday morning Tamilyn H. Sanderson,
Michigan Coordinator of REP America, the grassroots organization of
Republicans for Environmental Protection, Bret Huntman, president of  The
Mackinaw Forest Council, and Tim Flynn, of the Sierra Club, took Senator
Walter North and Representative Scott Shackleton on a walk in the Mackinaw
State Forest.  The walk was given to inform our legislators of current
forest conservation issues.

Tim Flynn lead the group to a maturing northern hardwood forest located in
northern Emmet County. The particular stand was selected because it is a
recovering old growth forest with a massive aspen clear-cut in the center of
it. Tim explained the need for the forest industry and our society to allow
some areas of the landscape to return to old growth conditions for a variety
of reasons.

Many of our state threatened and endangered species rely on old growth
habitat to find the food and shelter needed for their survival. Old growth
areas provide a reference point for the "art" of forest management. If
problems develop in our managed forest, old growth areas could provide a
clue to the solution and possibly a seed bed of the missing piece or pieces
in the managed forest. Old growth forest also provide a place for people to
rediscover their timeless connection with nature and attract visitors who
help support the important tourism industry of the north country.

As we know, a healthy forest is more than trees. A healthy forest depends on
complex and interdependent interactions between the climate, soil,
microorganisms living in the soil, the plants animals of the forest and the
trees themselves. Natural forests have a wide variety of tree species in any
one area. There are young, old dying and dead trees mixed together, standing
dead and lying on the ground throughout the forest.

A major problem with current forest management practices on public lands is
that most of these lands are managed for timber and game species.  Clearcuts
are dispersed throughout the forest to grow aspen and provide habitat for
deer, grouse and rabbits. The entire forest is simplified to growing large
stands of single species of trees and lots of a limited number of animal
species. Common species move in and replace rare, threatened and endangered
species. The Pine Martin  and the Red Shouldered Hawk are two of the species
that has been greatly harmed by the current logging procedures.

Once the trees are cut, the wood is removed from the forest. There are no
longer dead and down trees providing habitat for den nesting birds and
mammals, and cover for rodents and moisture loving salamanders. There is no
longer a reinvestment of nutrients and woody debris into the soils. We are
mining the forest today without regard for the needs of future generations.

The Michigan Chapter of REP America, the Mackinaw Forest Council and the
Sierra Club are groups of concerned citizens advocating for managing just a
portion of our public lands as natural and old growth areas. These areas
could protect the natural heritage of northern Michigan forests. This
portion could be as small as 10% of the landscape.

“We need broader planning involving not only the DNR, but the communities
that are near the forest in question”  Flynn stated.  “We need to plan for
not just forest management, but wildlife management, recreation planning and
hunting activities.  The DNR is suppose to be in charge of protecting our
natural resources by planning, and they just aren’t  doing it.”

Senator North and Representative Shackleton learned that we are not against
logging and in fact know that we need it.  The Michigan Chapter of REP
America and the Mackinaw Forest Council just want to see the DNR create a
better way to manage our natural resources for our children and our

Senator Walter North stated, “It is interesting about the interdependency of
the forest and the creatures that live there, or used to live there; and
hopefully they will return to live there with proper planning.”  North
enjoyed the hike and the chance to learn more about our state forests.

After the walk, Representative Scott Shackleton stated that he had learned
alot and had a lot to think about how the government could do a better job.
“All people in Michigan are charged with being good stewards of our lands
and the legislators should be better at it than anyone, including making
good laws.”  Rep. Shackleton said.

There are simply not enough people working in the field with all the
cutbacks in the DNR.  In order for good planning, there should be a DNR
officer working on wildlife management, another on recreation, and yet
another working on forestry.  Then they should all come together to create
one plan for forest management.

Bret Huntman noted, “In order to manage our state forests for the diversity
of plants and animals that make Michigan's forests their homes we all (DNR,
DEQ, government law makers and interested citizens) need to work together to
set aside significant wildlands for natural processes to continue unimpeded.
Current forest management practices on state lands do not make a place for
this to happen. We can protect our environment, strengthen the tourism
industry and support a healthy forest products industry.”

 “It can be done, all it takes is proper planning, time, effort and enough
staff to work on it for the betterment of Michigan. Educating our
legislators is a good place to start.” Sanderson stated. “Now that we have
given them the knowledge they need, all they have to do is put it into
action, which with the current administration, is easier said than done.”

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