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Re: E-M:/ WLFA News Release

MUCC's knee-jerk and ill-conceived reaction to the Sierra Club suit over wildlife management on public lands in Michigan reflects the organization's view that maintaining ecosystems in early successional stages to maximize herbivore abundance for game purposes is sound management. 
If MUCC were truly interested in sound management and accurate environmental assessment, then they would be leading the charge for a full Environmental Impact Statement on use of the PR funds.  That way, the merits of their arguments, and the arguments of groups such as the Ruffed Grouse Society will be evaluated for all to see.  That's all that Sierra Club is asking for in the lawsuit, after all.
For far too long, federal tax dollars have gone to support management practices with a growing record of adverse impacts.  Finally, we have the opportunity to verify the assertions of MUCC and other groups regarding the suitability and success of land management practices in Michigan.  Unfortunately, rather then support sound analysis opponents have turned to patently false statements and exageration.  Opponents of this suit should reexamine their opposition in light of the need for sound environmental analysis of a program with such large impacts and such great possibilities. 

Dave Zaber
----- Original Message -----
From: Kenneth Vermeulen
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net ; timf@mac.com
Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2001 7:58 AM
Subject: Re: E-M:/ WLFA News Release

Tim, without taking sides as to the merits of either sides case, I think you better be careful criticizing the "honesty" of the MUCC, et al, if you are going to suggest in the same breath that an Environmental Impact Statement would take "a couple of weeks." 

>>> Tim Flynn <timf@mac.com> 02/27/01 07:07PM >>>
Thanks for posting this press release.  As a party to this suit, I'd like to clear up a few things, the comments below are my personal response to this clearly misleading statement.

Tim Flynn

>From the press release by MUCC, Ruffed Grouse Society, etal.
> The action is in response to a suit filed in early October against the MDNR
> and USFWS by the Sierra Club.  If successful, the suit could halt wildlife
> habitat management practices on state lands in Michigan.

This statement is completely disingenuous, or in the alternative maybe these "outstanding" conservation orgs haven't read our brief and they’re just ignorant of the case.  

We have worked for more than 5 years to get the State and the Feds to comply with Federal law, we did so for the specific reason that we did not want to stop the funding of wildlife projects, even though we object strongly to some of them.  

We have been asking for more than 5 years, that they review, as required by federal law, the environmental consequences of their program.  This includes a public disclosure of what they intend to do with OUR money, a look at alternative ways of protecting and restoring wildlife habitat, a consultation on the effects of the program on endangered species, and a disclosure the cumulative environmental effects of their actions.

> The suit further contends the
> Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Fish and Wildlife Service have
> violated federal law by using monies collected from sportsmen through excise
> taxes on firearms and ammunition to fund these habitat management projects.

First, I personally help pay the tax on firearms, and ammunition, as I am a deer hunter.  Many Sierra Club members also hunt or fish, so many of our members also pay into this fund.  We do have a stake in this funding, along with our rights to see that Michigan's habitat is in fact protected and restored.  This is in fact the purpose of the P-R Act in question.  

Second, we contend they are violating Federal law, not by using the monies for habitat management projects, but instead the violation comes from not specifying what they intend to do with the money, and by not assessing the environmental effects of they actions.  This press release by these "conservationists" is clearly intended to mislead the press and public about this suit, honesty does not seem to be part of their conservation ethic!
> MUCC Executive Director James Goodheart explains, "The Sierra Club's lawsuit
> is a deliberate attempt to stall the pace of wildlife management.  Wildlife
> within our forestlands have been successfully managed for decades first by
> the Department of Conservation and then by the DNR.  We do not need to
> federalize management of our natural resources."

Here James, seems to be reading our minds, nice trick.  What we are doing, deliberately, is to get the State and the FWS to evaluate the effects of their management on the habitat they claim to be improving.  James claims that their management has been successful, well then just show that to the public in an environmental assessment.  For over five years we've been asking the State and the Fed's to do just that, had they done so there would be not a lawsuit, and no delay in funding.

Any funding delays must clearly be laid at the feet of the Governor, his DNR Director Mr. Cool, and the lack of a true conservation ethic in the Fish and Wildlife Service's Federal Aid Division.  All they had to do was follow the clear mandates of NEPA and the ESA.  If the program is so above board, what are they afraid of?

> "We are concerned that this lawsuit may impede the development of critically
> important wildlife habitats on state lands in Michigan," stated Adam Bump,
> Regional Wildlife Biologist for the Ruffed Grouse Society in Michigan.  "By
> proactively managing our state forests, we can ensure the proper balance
> between young and old forests, and provide habitats for all forest
> wildlife."

If the agencies had proactively follow Federal law, there would be no problem.  Had these "conservation" organizations pressured the agencies, over the last five plus years, to follow the law as they implemented of this program they wouldn't have to worry today.  

We are asking them, simply, to evaluate the “proper balance”, to assess what are the most scientifically justified, critically important, wildlife habitat projects.  Are 40,000 acres of industrial clearcuts, or the planting of non-native plants the most critically needed habitat projects.  I personally doubt it, but all we’ve asked is that they prove it in an assessment of the environmental consequences, as require by Federal law.
> The WCFA echoed these sentiments.
> "The idea that wildlife management would suffer by denying the use of
> sportsmen's dollars is unconscionable," said Rick Story, WCFA vice
> president.

Here we agree.  That is why we waited more than five years, that is why we seek to have this money spent wisely, not just willy nilly.  It is also unconscionable to have these funds spent on less than critically important habitat projects.

NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) is designed to make sure federal moneys are spent wisely with regards to the environment.  This program is supposed to help the environment by having Federal Agencies look before they leap.  Why not spend a couple of weeks, upfront, assessing whether the proposed actions will be the best use of our money?  

Maybe some of these "conservationists" can explain this fear of looking at the consequences to us!  Or are they really just interested in protecting they own interests without regard to the actual effects of this program on Michigan's environment?