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E-M:/ South Fox Island: DNR withdraws request for federal approval

Enviro-Mich message from "Upton, Brian" <BUPTON@mail.gtbindians.com>

By letter to USFWS and NPS dated November 14, 2001, the DNR officially
withdrew its request for federal approval of its former land exchange
proposal for South Fox Island (which had involved lands with federal
interests).  This followed David Johnson's letters from last week which
notified the federal agencies and DNR that he was no longer interested in
the former land exchange proposal.  I was told that the USFWS has already
prepared notices, for publication in the Federal Register, which say the
agency is discontinuing its work on the proposal.  The discontinuation
notice also applies to the NPS.

Among other considerations, it is important to remember that the newest
exchange proposal (are we on #3 or #4 now?) would still involve David
Johnson giving the State of Michigan five properties which come with clouded
title in the form of Indian land claims.  If the clouded title is eventually
resolved in favor of the Indian heirs, that land would come out of the
public ownership if this exchange is allowed to go through.  In the newest
exchange proposal, the DNR would be giving up lands with clear title which
are far superior to the lands which would be received.  

Properties proposed to be given up by the DNR include the longest
publicly-owned stretch of perched dunes on the Island, which the Michigan
Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) has described as being "globally-rare" and
"one of the most unique features of the Great Lakes shoreline."  In a memo
dated 1/28/94,the MNFI went on to describe these particular dunes on South
Fox as "one of the best examples of this natural community in the state.  It
has spectacular blowouts, buried and excavated 'ghost forests', and an
uncommonly well vegetated morainal bluff.  The open dunes . . . are
described as having high species diversity, little human disturbance, and no
exotics.  The latter is particularly significant, given the spread of
exotics on the mainland dunes.  These dunes could provide a baseline
location for comparison with mainland dunes in studies on the effects of
exotics in dune communities."

A 7/30/96 MNFI memo, after discussing the biodiversity significance of South
Fox Island, said that the "state should own and protect" the Island.  In
reference to the Fox Islands (both North and South), this same memo said
that they "both deserve protection for the public trust."  Those comments
were made within the context of the existing state-ownership on South Fox

For those of you who may not have seen the Leelanau Enterprise front page
articles on the newest exchange, I am attaching links to both articles.  The
newspaper  (hardcopy) includes color maps of the new proposal and which
properties would be affected.

First article, titled "Unfair - Feds 'unduly influenced,' S.Fox Island owner

Second article, titled "Johnson alters offer - Deal would cut feds from
S.Fox decision":

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