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E-M:/ Reconfigured DNR Divisions -- What's Up?

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>


Last week I reposted a DNR press release regarding the creation of a new
Division  (Forestry, Fire and Mineral Management Division) which combined
parts of the Forest Management Division and parts of the Mineral and Lands
Division.  I have been learning a little bit more about this new Division,
and I must say the more I learn the more concerned I am about what is going
on here.  How much of this has to do with Ed Hagan, now former Acting Chief
of Forest Management Division, saying when the legislature tried to force a
timber mandate that exceeded sustainability down the throats of the State
Forests, that the agency couldn't meet that mandate and they would not do
so. Did that brave stand in defense of better management of our state's
resources cost Ed his job and the Forest Management Division its

Or how much may this relate to the fact the the DNR Forest Management
Division routinely disagreed with the Minerals Management folks on where
wells should go on State Forest lands -- while Forest Management often got
run over (as did the resource they were trying to manage) the fact is that
opposition from the division may have irked those with an "exploit at all
cost" agenda.

Why do these concerns arise?  First, the reorganization popped into view
pretty much fully formed at the Natural Resources Commission meeting last
week, without much or any notice to DNR staff within the Divisions, from
everything I can tell.  A look at the website a week later shows no
information other than the press release, which itself gives very little
information. It is not clear to me yet where the actual decisions were made,
but it appears to have been at or above the level of the DNR Director.

Second, it has been hard so far to even figure out what in fact has been
done to the Divisions involved, but it appears that some of the steps toward
trying to manage on an ecosystem basis may be now being wiped away, as
irrational (from a resource management standpoint) decisions seem to have
gone into this breakup and rearrangement.  Today I learned that the
Recreation and Trails Section was yanked out of this new division and put
into Parks and Recreation, and that the Natural Rivers Section has been
split off to the Fisheries Division.  While some might argue that this makes
sense functionally, this strategy misses a huge issue with regard to sound
management of the largest state forest system in the country -- the trails
and campgrounds are largely ON STATE FOREST LANDS, and are both influences
on and are influenced by the management on the State Forests for all sorts
of other uses.  But evidently now they will be "managed" by people who are
outside the State Forest management system. How will coordination happen,
especially with the campgrounds?  Right now a large amount of the work done
to maintain Forest Recreational resources is done by Forest Fire Fighters
who in their spare time go work on trails, cleaning up campgrounds, etc.
Does this mean there will be virtually no one to do maintenance of these
recreational facilities?  Does this mean the intent is to kill of these
types of recreational activities on our State Forests, since they are not
going to pay for themselves ever?

The shift of the Natural Rivers Program may make more sense, but it is the
land along the rivers that is managed under this program, not the water, so
unless this means there will be no management in river corridors (fine
idea!) it is not clear how this cleanly fits into Fisheries Division.

Even more troubling may be what has happened vis a vis the consolidation of
minerals and land management into the Forestry, Fire and Mineral MAnagement
Division.  While I am a big fan of integration of management on a single
piece of land, this only works well when there is open exposure of the
debate about allocation of resources on that piece of land.  It seems just
as likely now that what may happen is that all debate will be kept inside
this one Division -- speaking with one voice, but which voice will that be?
I guess that all depends on who was behind this bizarre reorganization.

I am dealing solely with speculation now, but as a week passes and there is
no additional information about this reorganization, and there is an
increasingly clear sense that this was done behind very tightly locked
doors, I feel increasingly concerned about what Cool Hath Wrought.  Anyone
with more information is encouraged to share it!!

Anne Woiwode
Sierra Club

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