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E-M:/ DNR Timber Mandate Debate -- for 4th Year in a Row

Enviro-Mich message from "Tom & Anne Woiwode" <woiwode@voyager.net>

Enviro-Mich folks:

    Wednesday, March 1
    3:00 or after session, Room 307 House Office Building
    House Appropriations Subcommittee on
    Natural Resources and Environmental Quality
    DNR Budget Bill (HB 5281) TIMBER MARKING MANDATE Boilerplate language

Tomorrow afternoon the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural
Resources and Environmental Quality will hear testimony for THE FOURTH YEAR
IN A ROW about the boilerplate language in the DNR's budget (HB 5281) to
require that the publicly owned, allegedly multiple use State Forests of
Michigan be mandated once again to prepare for logging at least 855,000
cords of wood in the next Fiscal Year.  The Executive budget bill this year
added language that says that the DNR will be mandated EITHER to mark at
least 855,000 cords of timber to be logged on State Forests next year, OR to
manage 60,000 acres of State Forest lands for next year for timber.

DNR representatives will present information about the issue, and testimony
will be taken from several organizations with interests in forest issues,
and from anyone else who would wish to testify.

While Sierra Club opposes ANY mandate, the DNR is expected to present some
more details about this issue than they have in the past, and to say that
they can live with the language proposed in the Gov's budget bill. Likewise,
MUCC is supporting the Governor's budget bill, though they would prefer that
any mandate be tied more to actual planning or management decisions, not
arbitrary numbers.

The reason the issue is coming up is that evidently the Michigan Association
for Timbermen is not happy about the minor modifications to the timber
mandate language from last year.  Issues that are met with a consensus by
the Subcommittee don't inspire much discussion, but evidently Rep. Paul
Tesanovich, from the western UP, is objecting, with prodding from MAT, to
the timber mandate boilerplate language this year.

The Sierra Club believes no mandate is appropriate in the face of continuing
failures of the DNR to do planning and inventories of its lands to tell
whether or not the mandated levels will harm the forests. For example, since
1991 the DNR has promised to identify and protect old growth on State
Forests but to date there has been NO opportunity for the public to review
and comment on either criteria or an actual proposed system for old growth
protection.  The budget timber mandates, in conjunction with inadequate
funding for planning, public input and inventory, have driven the management
of the State Forests, even when the agency is not selling all of the timber
it puts up and when no one knows the consequences of this mandate on
wildlife, recreation, water quality and quantity, etc.

This year for the first time ever, however, the DNR is actually producing
some information about the baseline forests that belong to all of us.  For
instance, while Michigan State Forests cover about 3.9 million acres of
land, this year for the first time the DNR has reported that approximately
700,000 acres of those lands AREN'T EVEN FORESTS! They are in fact water,
open fields, rocks or other formations on which trees do not grow. This
simple, straightforward fact, however, hasn't dissuaded the Timbermen from
ridiculously simplistic calculations about what they claim is the amount of
wood that could be cut on MI's publicly owned State Forest lands using a
base number of 4 million acres of State Forest lands (a "fact" sheet from
MAT with this and other claims about the boilerplate can be obtained from
them at 517-364-8733 or stop by their offices at 409 W. Ionia Street in
Lansing. Email is karasek@timbermen.org -- I was asked by their lobbyist not
to post it on Enviro-Mich otherwise I would share it with you all).

The real irony of this debate comes through, however, when you look at the
Timbermen's homepage on the web (http://timberman.org).  Under Current
Issues, the Executive Director talks about sustainable forestry, promoting
the industry's take on this issue and taking potshots at environmentalists
who support any sort of regulation of logging practices.  It is interesting
to read the line that "we need the least government possible, as we make
decisions to satisfy the long-term requirements of our families, occupations
and communities."  How 'bout that -- with a full-time lobbying staff in
Lansing working hard to get the GOVERNMENT to mandate more wood be sold on
our PUBLIC forests, even over the objections of the professional managers of
those PUBLIC forests, these guys have the audacity to claim they are for
LESS government.

Anne Woiwode
Sierra Club

RESPOND TO anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org

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