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E-M:/ U.S. Senate Approves Omnibus Lands Bill 73-21; includes important provisions for Michigan



Levin, Stabenow Hail Passage of Public Lands Bill


Bill would benefit four protected areas in Michigan: Keweenaw, Pictured Rocks,

River Raisin battlefield and the North Country Trail


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- January 14, 2009                                                            


Dave Pollock, Levin 202-228-3685

Brad Carroll, Stabenow 202-224-1437


WASHINGTON – As the Senate today approved the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, both D-Mich., hailed the inclusion of numerous provisions that would help preserve and protect natural resources and improve parks and trails in Michigan. The bill contains legislation that would benefit Keweenaw National Historical Park in the Upper Peninsula; Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, also in the Upper Peninsula along the south shore of Lake Superior; the River Raisin battlefield in Monroe and Wayne counties; and the North Country National Scenic Trail, which traverses more than a thousand miles in Michigan.


“This bill is critically important to preserving natural resources in Michigan and making our rich history and environment accessible for current and future generations,” said Senator Levin. “I am hopeful that this legislation will allow more visitors to learn about the vibrant role played by the Upper Peninsula’s ‘copper country’ in our industrial and technological development, to enjoy the majesty of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, to explore Michigan’s varied terrain through the lens of the North Country Trail and to appreciate the stunning history behind the War of 1812 and the Battle of the River Raisin.”


“Making sure our beautiful lakes, waterways, parks, and most cherished historical landmarks are protected is vital to the very identity of our state and our nation,” said Stabenow. “This legislation will help ensure that state treasures such as Pictured Rocks National Park, Keewanaw National Historical Park, the North Country Trail and the River Raisin Battlefield remain preserved for Michigan residents and tourists alike for years to come.” 


The public lands bill includes legislation first introduced by Senators Levin and Stabenow in the 110th Congress to improve the Keweenaw National Historical Park, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The legislation would remove overly restrictive property acquisition requirements, change existing unfair matching requirements for federal funds, and increase the authorized level of funding that could be appropriated for the park.  Established in 1992, this unique park is a partnership with nearly 20 independently-operated heritage sites, and preserves and interprets the incredible story of the copper rush in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula during the Industrial Revolution.


The Senate-passed lands bill also provides important protections for 12,000 acres within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula along the south shore of Lake Superior. The Beaver Basin wilderness area would comprise about 12,000 acres, or 16 percent, of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and was proposed by Senators Levin and Stabenow after five years of careful planning and extensive public consultation.  The Wilderness designation is responsive to many of the concerns expressed by citizens, and would ensure its continued recreational use. 


The public lands bill also contains legislation sponsored by Senators Levin and Stabenow as a companion to Representative Dingell’s legislation in the House that would designate the River Raisin battlefield site in Monroe, Michigan, as a unit of the National Park System. The site was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the War of 1812. Out of nearly 1,000 American troops that took part in the clash, only 33 escaped death or capture. Arguably the largest land engagement of the war, the battle gave birth to the rallying cry, “Remember the Raisin,” which spurred the American forces on to victory at the Battle of the Thames nine months later. While there are currently eight War of 1812 Battlefield sites that are in the National Park System, none of these sites are located in areas that were once considered the “Northwest,” a key strategic front in the War of 1812.


Finally, the public lands bill contains legislation sponsored by Senator Levin that would authorize the federal government to purchase land from willing sellers for the North Country National Scenic Trail.  The North Country Trail will be the nation’s longest hiking trail, running through seven states including Michigan, which has longest trail segment of 1,150 miles. The federal government has the authority to make land acquisitions from willing sellers for most of its national scenic and historic trails, but this authority has not been available for the North Country Trail. This provision would reverse that and allow for the eventual completion of the trail, giving more users the opportunity to enjoy scenic hiking in Michigan as well as the six other states along the planned route.


The Omnibus Public Land Management Act now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.