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E-M:/ "Critics see loophole in park safeguards"



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Enviro-Mich message from Andrew Mutch <andrewimutch@yahoo.com>
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A nice write-up in the GR Press about the potential
threat to state parkland posed by loopholes in SB 971
and 972. 

http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/base/news-28/1143474568146520.xml&coll=6

Unfortunately, further analysis of SB 971 and 972 has
turned up additional threats to parkland.

In 2004, the DNR completed phase one of its land
consolidation process. At that time, the DNR formally
adopted new boundaries for "State Forests, State Game
and Wildlife Areas, State Parks, and State Recreation
Areas". You can review these boundaries by county
here:

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10368_38888_39029-31021--,00.html

In some cases, the new boundaries followed the
existing boundaries of the parks/recreation areas or
identified in-holdings to acquire. More troubling is
that in some cases, the new boundaries specifically
excluded large areas of state-owned land from the
boundaries of a State Park or Recreation Area. 

For those properties that fall outside the boundaries
established in 2004, SB 971 and 972 provide NO
protection against them being sold off without public
input because the legislation applies ONLY to:

"land within the dedicated boundary of a state park or
state recreation area"

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2005-2006/billengrossed/Senate/htm/2006-SEBS-0971.htm

Based on the 2004 boundaries, the DNR has already
identified almost 600 acres near the Proud Lake
Recreation Area in Oakland County that it considers
"surplus". While the DNR has not completed a
per-parcel review of land in Oakland County, there has
already been controversy in the Commerce Township area
about the removal of this property from the boundaries
of Proud Lake. 

If/when the DNR decides to "dispose" of this almost
600 acres of parkland in Oakland County, SB 971 and
972 would provide no protection against the sale of
that land and no guarantee of public input or review
before the sale of land took place. Even worse, based
on a recent press release from the DNR, local
governments and conservation agencies will only be
given 60 days to act before the DNR starts selling off
"surplus" land to developers and others:

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153--139311--,00.html

It's likely that there are similar scenarios waiting
to happen on lands across the state simply because
they fall outside the 2004 boundaries. I've heard
rumblings that the Waterloo Recreation Area in
Washtenaw County is another area where parcels of
state-owned land now fall outside the 2004 boundaries
of the Recreation Area. In some counties, the clock is
already ticking on this 60 day timeline:

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10368_39505-134705--,00.html

As I said before, Senator Birkholz and other
supporters of SB 971 and 982 are well-intentioned. But
legislation that allows the potential sale of 600
acres of state-owned parkland without ANY public input
or review is not good public policy. Legislation that
allows state-owned land including parkland to be
sold-off to developers after just 60 days with no
guarantee of public input or review is not good public
policy. The residents of Michigan and our State Parks
and State Recreation Areas deserve better and SB 971
and 972 need to be rewritten to protect these areas
that are now at risk and to guarantee the long-term
protection of our State Parks and State Recreation
Areas. 

Andrew Mutch
Novi

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