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E-M:/ Federal Funding in Omnibus Budget Bill Helps U.P. Project



News From The Nature Conservancy

 

Dec. 20, 2007                                                 Contact: Melissa Soule, Communications Dir.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        [517] 230-0818 or msoule@tnc.org

 

The Nature Conservancy Applauds Federal Support for Michigan’s Northern Great Lakes Forest Project in Omnibus Budget Bill

 

LANSING, Mich. – The Nature Conservancy applauded the action of Congress yesterday to fund the Northern Great Lakes Forest Project with $2 million within the FY-08 omnibus budget bill.

 

The Nature Conservancy in Michigan, along with Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm and state agency representatives announced in January 2005 that an agreement had been reached with The Forestland Group, LLC, to protect more than 271,000 acres through a working forest easement on 248,000 acres and acquisition of 23,338 acres in the Upper Peninsula. Known as the Northern Great Lakes Forest Project, the parcels stretch over eight counties—from Chippewa to Ontonagon—and link together more than 2 million acres of protected federal, state and natural areas across the UP. The Forestland Group was the successful bidder on the land in a 2002 auction conducted by its former owner, the Kamehameha Schools of Hawaii.

 

“This project serves to protect more than 270,000 acres of forests and lakes across the Upper Peninsula and will in turn protect our natural heritage and jobs for communities across the region,” Senator Debbie Stabenow said. “I have enjoyed partnering with The Nature Conservancy as they turn what was once a great vision into one of the largest conservation projects in America. I appreciate their continued efforts to preserve and protect the beauty and majesty of our state’s environmental resources.”

 

This $2 million appropriation within the budget bill is part of the federal government’s $10 million pledge to help fund the $58 million project. Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund has already appropriated $16 million, with the remaining funding from private sources, primarily Michigan’s philanthropic foundations.

 

“The Northern Great Lakes Forest Project will protect important U.P. forests and maintain sustainable timber production, which will create jobs, preserve recreational opportunities and safeguard critical environmental resources for future generations,” Senator Carl Levin said.

 

According to an economic impact assessment commissioned by The Nature Conservancy and conducted by Public Sector Consultants, the 271,000 acres covered by the agreement produce approximately 6% of round wood taken from UP forests. Based on this market breakdown, it can be assumed that the lands covered by the agreement account for $200 million of associated economic activity each year and support 3,000 total jobs. The total economic impact of these lands is even greater if you consider the impact of natural resources recreation, according to the assessment.

 

“This is a major step forward to completing this complex, multi-year project,” said Helen Taylor, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan. “The leadership of Senators Levin and Stabenow and Congressman Bart Stupak was essential to ensuring that this precious landscape will continue to thrive and provide numerous benefits to U.P. communities as well as our state’s economy.”

 

Highlights of the project include:

·        More than 300 natural lakes, including 74 lakes larger than ten acres;

·        192 miles of Class I trout streams, including the Two Hearted River and the Presque Isle River as well as over 324 miles of additional riparian habitat along major rivers and tributaries (roughly 516 miles total);

·        More than 31 miles of land bordering Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, including 20,000 acres of adjacent buffer;

·        Roughly 10,000 acres of buffer and inholdings to Tahquamenon Falls State Park and another 10,000 acres to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park;

·        More than 52,000 acres of wetlands;

·        Habitat for state and federal endangered species, including bald eagle, common loon, osprey, gray wolf, and a host of state-listed plant species and communities;

·        Approximately 50,000 acres of watershed protection and buffer lands adjacent to Seney National Wildlife Refuge;

·        23,338 acres of adjacent land and inholdings to The Nature Conservancy’s existing nature preserve in the Big Two Hearted River watershed.

·        Approximately 100,000 acres of adjacent buffer and inholdings to various State Forests.

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The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization that preserves plants, animals and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. To date, the Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.  Visit us on the Web at nature.org/michigan.

 


Melissa M. Soule, APR
Director of Communications & Marketing
msoule@tnc.org
(517) 316-2268 (Desk)
(517) 230-0818 (Cell)
    
The Nature Conservancy
Michigan

101 E. Grand River
Lansing, MI 48906-4348
http://nature.org/michigan