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E-M:/ DNR Stalls Old Growth process Again



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

Those who have followed the effort by a variety of groups, most notably 
Mackinaw Forest Council and Sierra Club, to get the DNR to get moving on 
the now nine year long process of trying to protect Old Growth areas on 
Michigan's State Forest system, will know that the DNR had promised that 
the report of the Old Growth Committee would be released to the public 
first in September, then in October, then in November. At the October 11 
NRC meeting, assurances were given that they were almost ready to go, and 
that the Old Growth report would be on the November Lands Management 
Committee agenda.

Now, in a fit of pique brought on by the Sierra Club's filing of a lawsuit 
against the DNR and USFWS on the Pittman Robertson grants, DNR Director KL 
Cool has pushed back the possibility of releasing the report by at least 
two months, if not more.  See Mr. Cool's letter below, as well as our 
response, for more detail (there are minor errors in the Cool letter, but 
this is the actual content of the letter).

This is extraordinarily troubling -- in June Sierra Club called attention 
to the fact that more than 78,000 acres of the oldest forest stands on the 
State Forest system were in the line-up for cutting at that time, PRIOR to 
any old growth consideration.  Our repeated requests that the agency at 
least put those stands on hold until the old growth process was completed 
have been opposed by DNR staff, in part because they have claimed the 
process would be done in a timely fashion.  The NRC has yet to even respond 
to repeated requests that they direct the DNR to put those stands on hold.  

I know that a number of people concerned about old growth had planned to 
attend the NRC Meeting at the Pontiac Silverdome on November 8.  Just 
because the issue has been dropped does not prevent you from coming to talk 
about it, and may even give a greater reason to do so since it becomes 
increasingly clear that we can never count on the DNR to keep its word on 
this topic.  

I would also urge those who take offense at the decision to boot the old 
growth protection AGAIN let both Director Cool and the NRC members know! 
While nothing seems to ever halt the timber preparation process or the 
creation of more deer habitat, it seems that the old growth stuff will 
forever get bumped when the DNR  has any excuse.

Anne Woiwode

------------------------

NATURAL RESOURCES
  COMMISSION
KEITH J. CHARTERS, Chair
JERRY C. BARThIK
NANCY A. DOUGLAS
L THORNTON EDWARDS. JR.
PAUL EISELE
BOB GARNER
WILLIAM U. PARFET
STATE OF MICHIGAN

JOHN ENGLER Governor
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
STEVENS T MASON BUILDING. P0 BOx 30028, LANSING MI 48909-7528
WEBSITE: www.dnr.stata.mi.us
K. L. COOL, Director


October 17, 2000

Ms. Ann Woiwode
Sierra Club
300 North Washington Square
Suite 411
Lansing, Michigan 48933

Dear Ms. Woiwode:

I am disappointed that in our discussion on old growth at the Natural 
Resources Commission (NRC) meeting in Holland last Thursday. You did not 
share with me or George Burgoyne that you were going to personally serve us 
with legal action the next day. As you know, Judge Enslen requires an 
answer to your latest Summons and Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and 
Injunctive Relief within 60 days.

As you will also recall, on Thursday you expressed your displeasure with 
the delay resultant from our Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 
Management Team's internal review of our Forestry Division's draft old 
Growth Report. I told you I would prioritize George's efforts to assure the 
evaluation was ready for the November NRC meeting. Without even a hint of 
your pending legal action, you accepted my verbal prioritization of Deputy 
Director Burgoyne's efforts, knowing you would be imposing new
and legally binding requirements on us the following day in the Summons.

Because I did not have the information about your legal action and the 
effort required for our response, I misspoke regarding George's allocation 
of time necessary to bring the Old Growth Report to our Management Team in 
October and then to Paul Eisele's subcommittee in November.

This is to inform you and the NRC Land Management Policy Committee that in 
order to comply with the Court's 60 day time frame, George has been 
assigned the lead role of compiling and coordinating our portion of the 
required response to Court Docket No: 1:00 cv762.

This, unfortunately, will require postponement of his evaluation of the Old 
Growth Report during the next 60 days.

George and I have discussed this matter and he will commit to completing 
his review of the Old Growth Draft Report for presentation internally to 
our Management Team in December and to Paul's NRC subcommittee at their 
January 2001 meeting.

I'm sure you can understand my personal disappointment in the need to 
redirect George's efforts such that he will be unable to meet the expedited 
review and public discussion schedule we discussed.

Sincerely,


K L Cool
Director

cc: Natural Resources Commission
     DNR Management Team

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October 26, 2000

Mr. KL Cool, Director
Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 30028 
Lansing, MI 48909-7528

Dear Mr. Cool:

        As the members of the Natural Resources Commission and George 
Burgoyne will recall, in July I came before the Commission to express our 
deep concern that the Department of Natural Resources was failing to comply 
with requirements of federal environmental laws regarding the preparation 
and submission of grant applications under the Pittman Robertson Act.  At 
that time I asked whether the DNR intended to comply, and Mr. Burgoyne 
responded, repeatedly, that the DNR was "considering its options."  I 
explained that the DNR was making itself vulnerable to litigation, and that 
we strongly urged the DNR to take steps to come into compliance with the 
law.  

We gave Notice of Intent to Sue to the US Fish and Wildlife Service under 
the federal Endangered Species Act in August of 1999, which your agency was 
fully aware of, and last spring we had a glimmer of hope that compliance 
with the laws would occur without us needing to file suit.  I'll remind you 
as well that this was the culmination of five years of effort on the part 
of the Sierra Club to try to work with the DNR to assure that grants your 
agency has received and is receiving are in compliance with federal 
environmental laws that had been enacted in the early 1970's or before.  

        Your letter of October 17 shows an extraordinary pettiness, 
suggesting that after five years of working to avoid litigation against the 
DNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and nine years of working with 
DNR to get even the most modest old growth protection strategy implemented, 
that the timing of announcement of our lawsuit was justification to once 
again put off taking any action to protect sensitive areas on State Forest 
lands.  The protection of old growth on Michigan's State Forests is not 
about doing some kind of favor for the Sierra Club. It is about meeting 
your obligations as officers of the State of Michigan, fulfilling a promise 
made to the people of Michigan that you will properly steward their lands.  
Clearly, based on the timelines and assurances provided in previous 
meetings, the vast majority of the work for bringing the old growth 
proposal to Lands Management Committee was completed prior to our filing 
suit, so there can be no justification for delay other than a fit of pique.

         I wish I could muster disappointment at this point, Mr. Cool.  
Instead you have simply demonstrated why those of us who chose the harder 
path of trying to work with DNR staff for years in good faith to restore 
the public trust in your agency might as well have just gone to court from 
day one.   

Sincerely,


Anne Woiwode
Program Director
cc.  Natural Resources Commission
      DNR Management Team






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