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E-M:/ DNR Budget/Timber Mandate update

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

 It appears that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural 
 Resources will hold its hearing tomorrow as scheduled. While there is no 
 requirement for the Subcommittee to announce cancellations well in 
 advance, the expectation is that they would have cancelled by late this 
 afternoon if they were planning not to hold it.
 Below is a letter Sierra Club has sent on this issue.  We understand there 
 is some modification of the language under discussion among subcommittee 
 members, and the issues raised below are just a part of the concerns 
 Sierra Club and other enviros have raised for four years on this issue.
 It is still timely to contact and express your concerns about this 
 proposal to the Subcommittee members: Senators George McManus, Harry Gast, 
 Phil Hoffman, Ken DeBeaussaert and Don Koivisto.
 Also, please see a separate post about an action in Traverse City last 
 week on this issue.
 April 3, 2000
 The Honorable George McManus
 Michigan State Senate
 State Capitol
 Lansing, MI  48913
 Dear Senator McManus:
        Boilerplate language in the DNR FY2001 Budget Bill (HB 5281) which 
 mandates that the Department put up timber sales at or above a level of 
 sustainability on the State Forests is in conflict with not only good 
 forest management practices and multiple uses of the forests, it is also 
 in conflict with good sense and sound economic principles.  The Sierra 
 Club requests the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources 
 to delete all boilerplate references to mandatory timber marking or timber 
 sale levels on Michigan's State Forests.
        For four years, the Sierra Club has argued against mandatory timber 
 production quotas in the DNR budget for many reasons.  This year, however, 
 the proposal as it emerged from the House has reached the point of 
 absurdity.  A government mandated quota to put on the market more wood in 
 FY2001 than was sold all of last year by the DNR on the free market is 
 economic folly that serves only the largest timber products companies of 
        This proposal becomes particularly ludicrous when other parts of 
 the DNR budget are considered as well.  The administration is requesting a 
 $2.5 million fund transfer from General Funds into the Forest Development 
 Fund in order to make up for a multiple year shortfall in revenue to the 
 state in the sale of timber products off State Forest lands.  The 
 explanation given is that Michigan's DNR has a generous program for 
 management of its timber sales, and the industry has stockpiled large 
 amounts of timber sales on State Forest lands, at significant public 
 expense.  No well run company pours additional product onto the market 
 when inventories are at all time high levels and revenues are low.  As the 
 largest owner of forest land in Michigan, this legislatively mandated 
 timber sale quota has potential to wreak havoc on private forest land 
 owners who cannot possibly compete on equal footing with the government in 
 this market.  
        The timber industry has argued that the boilerplate mandate is 
 needed to assure DNR accountability, but this government mandated quota 
 for timber sales instead:
 n costs taxpayers money; 
 n floods the market with wood above any detectable demand;
 n puts the state in unfair competition with small and medium private, 
 non-industrial forest land owners; and 
 n sends a clear signal to agency staff that use of the State Forest for 
 recreation, wildlife, and water quality are secondary to getting the cut 
        As the new century takes hold, we urge you to eliminate timber 
 mandates entirely from the DNR Budget.  Sierra Club strongly supports 
 increasing the accountability of the DNR in its management of our State 
 Forest system.  However, this mandatory minimum timber sale quota has 
 nothing to do with holding the DNR accountable, and everything to do with 
 a blatant, unvarnished give away to the largest timber products companies 
 in Michigan. 
 Anne Woiwode
 Program Director

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