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E-M:/ Developer wants Sleeping Bear Dunes NL land to build on

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

Anyone with a decent length memory in Michigan will know about the fights
with the Homestead resort complex over the owner's attempts to build a golf
course in wetlands along the Crystal River.  A few years ago, apparently
when it became clear that he wouldn't be able to build what he wanted, Bob
Kuras started advocating for a swap of the Crystal River wetlands he owned
for very buildable lands within the boundaries and owned by Sleeping Bear
Dunes National Lakeshore.  This terrible idea eventually disappeared as the
park service opposed it and public outcry grew. Sort of like a locust,
however, the idea has now reemerged in a fully shaped form in two distinct
proposal, one of which is being lobbied heavily by Mr. Kuras right now to
the Michigan Congressional Delegation.

The land swap idea is being explored in the proposed General Management Plan
revision, which means it should be subject to public input and submission to
review under proper federal laws.

In the last couple of days, however, Mr. Kuras has been spotted in
Washington DC with an entourage that reportedly includes former Senator Don
Riegle and a former head of the National Park Service, visiting Michigan
delegation members seeking support to have this land swap added on at the
very last minute to bills that have to do with parks issues in Oregon and
Washington State, but which need only to have action on the floor of the
House in order to pass.

While protection of the Crystal River is a great idea, this land swap is a
HORRIBLE idea that should opposed by anyone who cares about our national
natural treasures.  Land within SBDNL was acquired, often over the
objections of the former owners, with the promise to the people of this
nation that it would be protected in perpetuity as national park lands.  It
would be a cruel hoax on those who sometimes willingly agreed to give up the
family homestead in order to serve the long term interests of our country,
to have that land turned over to a developer so he can build houses, a golf
course, and other development on that land.

If Mr. Kuras wants to see Crystal River land included in the park he can
make a donation of that land, or even seek to have it acquired (maybe he
could get tax deductions and sell it through a land conservancy).  It would
be nice to have that land in the park, but it would be an outrage for anyone
to think it is appropriate to trade away any of the precious land of the
SBDNL to achieve that goal.

Evidently it is suggested that a portion the land that would be traded has
already been ruined by the Homestead, as part of its entrance and for it
drainage field.  It is an outrage that the park service has allowed these
encroachments, but it is critical to realize that even this inappropriate
use can be eliminated and the lands restored IF these lands stay in National
Park Service hands.  The park service should insist that the Homestead get
its entrance way off National Park Service lands, and move its drainage
field, but even if they don't right now, in the future those will be
reclaimed.  Giving 140 acres to a developer from lands in national park
protection, however, is an unconscionable idea.

Anne Woiwode

Anne Woiwode, Staff Director, Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48906
517-484-2372; fax 517-484-3108  anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org
visit the Mackinac Chapter on the web at http://michigan.sierraclub.org

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