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E-M:/ An Unfair Deal: Conservation Groups Oppose South Fox Swap
- Subject: E-M:/ An Unfair Deal: Conservation Groups Oppose South Fox Swap
- From: Keith Schneider <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 06 Dec 2001 12:55:29 -0500
- Delivered-To: email@example.com
- Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: Keith Schneider <email@example.com>
For Immediate Release
Contact: Keith Schneider,
More Harm Than Good
South Fox land deal structured to benefit wealthy developer at public
BENZONIA, Dec. 6 -- A coalition of prominent environmental organizations
and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians have formally
notified the state that they oppose a proposed land deal on South Fox
Island, which would transfer some of Michigan’s most dramatic and scenic
shoreline to a private developer.
letter to K.L. Cool, the director of the state Department of Natural
Resources, the organizations said the proposed land swap would forever
remove from the public domain “globally unique critical sand dunes
towering more than 300 feet above Lake Michigan, habitat for threatened
and endangered plant and animal species including peregrine falcons and
bald eagles, and a stand of coastal white cedars in excess of 400 years
organizations signed the letter including the Michigan Land Use
Institute, the Michigan Environmental Council, Resource Stewards, and the
Michigan Conservation Foundation. Representatives of these organizations
will join hundreds of Michigan citizens this afternoon in opposing the
swap at a public meeting in Lansing held by the Natural Resources
Commission --- the citizen oversight body of the state DNR. The Natural
Resources Commission is meeting at the Lansing Center and is expected to
make a recommendation on Friday morning.
David Johnson, the island’s only private landowner, recently offered the
latest in a string of proposals to trade land he owns on South Fox Island
for public land managed by the DNR. South Fox Island is located about 25
miles off the coast of Leelanau County in Lake Michigan, just west of the
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The state and Mr. Johnson assert
that swapping 219 acres of private land at the island’s north end for 218
acres of publicly-owned shoreline on the south side is a fair trade.
however, argue that the parcels do not have equal environmental, scenic,
or economic value and the proposal runs counter to the state’s
responsibility to protect the public trust. The groups opposing the swap
raised several issues of concern in their letter:
groups opposing the swap also identified several alternatives that would
benefit the public:
- 1) The swap does
not meet criteria established by an internal DNR policy regarding
transferring public island properties.
- 2) The same
internal policy requires a thorough island management plan that studies
resources and develops management objectives, which has never been done
on South Fox Island.
- 3) The DNR has
historically not managed the lands on South Fox Island because of its
distance from the mainland, contradicting a state assertion that the swap
would improve management.
- 4) The DNR claims a
public benefit of consolidated public lands, but there is no public group
on record supporting the swap.
- 5) There are
historic claims which cloud the title of much of the land that the state
proposest to transfer.
copy of the letter to Mr. Cool is attached.
- 1) Establish a DNR
policy to offer to purchase additional lands to create contiguous
ownership rather than swap existing lands.
- 2) Complete the
required management plan for the island.
- 3) Improve signs
and other boundary markers to reduce trespassing.
- 4) Increase DNR
management of public island properties.
background on the South Fox swap, see the Michigan Land Use Institute’s
Donations Yield Treasure Island for Michigan Developer
Opposes South Fox Swap
Set For South Fox Swap