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MUCC Policy Report Week of February 8, 2004

GOVERNOR GRANHOLM'S PLAN FOR FORESTRY UNVEILED AT GOVERNORS FOREST SUMMIT IN MINNEAPOLIS

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm’s plan to make sure Michigan’s forest industries remain competitive was unveiled today by her northern Michigan district representative who spoke on her behalf at the 2004 Governors Forest Summit in Minnesota.

Matt Johnson, director of the Governor’s northern Michigan office in Marquette, outlined details of a plan the Governor is proposing to ensure that Michigan’s forests remain managed for sustainability and that the state has the best forest management practices in the nation.

Forest certification will help retain Michigan jobs in the timber and wood fiber industry because more and more major consumers of paper and wood, such as AOL Time Warner, are demanding that wood producers be certified in environmentally-friendly and sustainable forestry practices, Johnson noted. Certification ensures Michigan is managing its state forests to preserve habitats, protect water quality, reduce erosion, and protect environmentally-sensitive areas.

“The Governor wants to send a clear message to wood product consumers that the products they purchase are produced in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable process,” Johnson said. “This proposal will make Michigan a national leader in forest management practices and a model for other states.”

The Governor has proposed that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) move forward on an effort to certify all state forestland in Michigan under a forest certification system that uses environmental and sustainability standards – ISO 14001, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The independent third-party certification would verify Michigan is using sustainable forestry practices, Johnson said.

Johnson also announced that Granholm would revive the Forestry Advisory Council to work within the state to ensure that Michigan’s timber and wood fiber products can compete in the global marketplace. The council would focus on recreation, wildlife habitat, biodiversity concerns, and multiple use issues. The council had existed in the administration of former Governor James Blanchard, but was eliminated in 1991 through an executive order issued by former Governor John Engler.

“Through the certification efforts I am asking the DNR to undertake, Michigan would have the largest amount of certified forestland in the nation by the end of 2005,” Granholm said. “While certification will help us compete and ensure that consumers are getting a quality product, it also sends the message that Michigan’s forests will continue to be expertly managed for sustained use.”

“This proposal goes to the core of my administration’s belief that economic development and a healthy environment are not mutually exclusive,” Granholm added. “We cannot have one without the other and expect to prosper as a state. A strong sense of environmental stewardship is a value all Michigan residents share, and it is integral to our quality of life.”

Currently, 99 million acres of forestland worldwide has been certified. Michigan would have the nation’s largest certified forest once its 4 million acres of state-owned forestland are certified, Granholm said. Only half of the world’s original forests still exist, and of that, only 8 percent are protected according to the Forest Certification Resource Center. The Center also notes that 64 acres of forestland are destroyed each minute by illegal or irresponsible logging practices, land clearance for agriculture, or development or forest fires.

The Governor’s plan was unveiled by Johnson at the “Governors Summit: Forest Industry Sustainability in the Great Lakes Region.” The conference is hosted by the Great Lakes Forest Alliance, Inc. and is a joint conference between Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Province of Ontario.

Letter from Rep. Susan Tabor on the Dove Bill
Dear Fellow Sportsmen:

Despite the cancellation of the Senate Appropriations Committee this past week, I am convinced that sportsmen will get a fair shot. I have heard many rumors about the reasons the committee was canceled, but the truth is no one knows for sure except the chairman, Senator Shirley
Johnson.

I have known Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema for a long time. He is a man of his word. I feel certain that we will get our vote, provided sportsmen keep calling their Senator to let them know that they support dove hunting. Opponents of the bill are using the cancellation of the committee as a means to convince sportsmen that the issue is dead. Far from it, hearing from sportsmen is what has made the difference up until today, and I believe it will continue to be so.

Sincerely,

Susan Tabor
State Representative
71st District

DNR Director Names new Special Assistant- Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director K.L. COOL has named DNR legislative liaison Dennis KNAPP to the newly created position of special assistant to the director.

DNR Director Search- The Natural Resources Commission has released their application package for Director of the Department of Natural Resources. The deadlines for receipt of the applications are March 2, 2004. The application indicates that they are looking for candidates with extensive senior executive experience in a large organization in natural resources management, public policy and administration obtained in either the public or private sector. The Commission is looking for demonstrated leadership qualities and have the ability to lead a management team that creates positive partnerships and relationships with members of the Michigan Legislature, Office of the Governor, other state agencies citizens and constituent groups and local government entities. A minimum of a Bachelor Degree and at least 5 years of senior executive level direct administrative experience in leading a major public or private agency with complex and diverse programs is highly desirable.

Deer case could have major impact
HoustonChronicle.com Friday January 23, 2004 –
If the long-held legal doctrine that wildlife is a public resource owned by everyone and no one comes undone, bet on the undoing involving Texas and its white-tailed deer.

A major step in that direction could come early next week from a federal court in San Antonio. A federal judge there has said he will rule on a suit seeking to designate wild white-tailed deer as private property and overturn the state's authority to make management decisions concerning those deer.

Texas has been heading this direction with its white-tailed deer for some time.

For a decade or so, a cabal of Texans who wrap themselves in the cloak of private property rights, capitalism and altruistic husbandry have been chipping away at the legal fences separating wild deer from domestic livestock.

By manipulating state regulations through use of considerable political pressure, the group has created ways to accomplish its goals without the outright challenge or abrogation of the public property doctrine.

Deer may not be considered private property under the letter of Texas law, but regulations allow some people to trap wild deer, put them in pens for selective breeding experiments, operate under special rules that make bag limits and hunting seasons moot, and otherwise treat the wildlife as if it was their personal property.

The deer coterie currently is continuing its war of attrition on the public ownership and state management of wildlife by fashioning even more liberal regulations.

Some of those proposals could be aired during Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission committee meetings in Austin next week. But such machinations could be moot if U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez rules in favor of the plaintiffs in a case before him.

The case revolves around a herd of white-tailed deer living in the San Antonio suburb of Hollywood Park.

Like many suburbs in Texas, Hollywood Park is home to a large number of deer. The animals, protected from hunting and predation, ravage what habitat remains. Once they strip the land of native forage, they fall upon the residents' gardens and landscaping or depend on bags of corn or other forage some residents provide.

Hollywood Park covers about 925 acres, with 400 acres in concrete or homes. That leaves about 525 acres of yards and fringe habitat.

The deer population in the subdivision is estimated at about 500, or a little less than one deer per acre. Typical natural deer habitat supports about one deer per 10 to 20 acres.

The deer are scrawny, overpopulated, savage residents' yards and pose driving hazards.

Many residents demanded Hollywood Park officials do something to rid the place of what some called "rats with hooves."

The city council banned feeding the deer, then worked with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to take advantage of a new law allowing towns to trap deer and deal with them in whatever way is appropriate.

The city and TPWD felt a law passed by San Antonio state senator Jeff Wentworth allowed the deer to be trapped, then transported to a slaughterhouse where they would be made into venison and used as food for state prisoners.

The town could have opted to try trapping, transplanting and relocating the deer. But that would involve additional expense to test the animals for chronic wasting disease. Also, it would involve trying to find a property which has the habitat to support he animals.

In Texas, very little deer range holds too few deer for the habitat.

Also, in typical deer trapping and transporting efforts, as many as a quarter of the animals die within days from capture myopathy, an illness related to the stress of capture and handling.

The council budgeted $30,000 for the trapping and transporting of about 300 of the deer.

Some Hollywood Park residents objected to the plan and filed suit in federal court. They claimed the trapping of the deer was an illegal taking of their property -- inverse condemnation.

"This would be unlawful taking of their personal property without compensation," attorney Richard Sommer, who represents the plaintiffs, was quoted in Wednesday's San Antonio Express-News.

Plaintiffs also claimed TPWD had no authority to issue the permit.

That the case was even heard in a federal court is somewhat surprising.

Regulation of resident wildlife such as deer has long been the exclusive purview of the states. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that in its landmark 1896 Geer v Connecticut decision, and the 10th Amendment is seen as further underscoring the issue.

But Rodriguez did hear the case.

On Tuesday, the judge said he would rule on the issues early next week.

If Rodriguez rules for the plaintiffs on either issue -- ownership of the deer or the state's ability to manage the wildlife -- Texas and the rest of the nation will be in for a serious debate, much of it to be fought in courts, about the future of wildlife.

Michigan Forest Directory - The Michigan Association of Timberman have a comprehensive listing of industry, public, private, university and governmental contacts to provide assistance on private forest land management. To receive the latest guide/and or a subscription to Michigan Forestry magazine please contact the Michigan Association of Timbermen at 800-682-4979.

Federal Budget – The Administration released its 2005 budget and proposed significant cuts to natural resource and environmental protection programs. The $2.4 trillion budget cuts EPA's funding by over 7 percent, endangered species recovery efforts are cut by $9.8 million -- a 14 percent reduction and the budget for the Forest Service is reduced by 7.6 percent. The budget also includes revenue projections for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Congress has until October 1 to pass a budget.

The Budget requests $475 million for the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, almost 40 percent short of the congressionally-authorized level. And includes cuts State and Private Forestry by 23 percent ($42 million), and reduces funding for Recreation, Heritage, and Wilderness; Wildlife and Fisheries Habitat Management; and Law Enforcement Operations.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), few small increases in the State Wildlife Grants and Cooperative Endangered Species Fund; but the Endangered Species and National Wildlife Refuges -- are seeing real or effective cuts. For example, proposed is a $9.8 million reduction from the current $68 million endangered species recovery budget, taking it below its $60 million level of three years ago. In addition funding for the Conservation Trust Fund enacted by a bi-partisan vote of Congress is 2000 has been eliminated. The Conservation Trust Fund as envisioned for a $2 billion-per-year conservation to meeting conservation, recreation, wildlife

fund by nearly $800 million over the next 14 years. And it would allow coal companies to use AML funds to purchase reclamation bonds, subsidizing the industry’s cost of doing business.

It Didn’t Have to be This Way: Abandoning the Conservation Trust Fund
This legacy of funding shortfalls and shell games didn't have to happen. In 2000, a bipartisan Congress enacted a roughly $2 billion-per-year conservation funding mechanism called the Conservation Trust Fund, designed to ensure that, in good times and in bad, the country always had enough money to meet our most important conservation, recreation, wildlife and preservation needs

The budget also would cut in half the $23 million in mandatory funds that the Farm Bill provided for the Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Improvements program.

Preserving Michigan Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema unveiled the Senate Republican caucus’s proposal to foster economic growth in Michigan. Under the "preserving Michigan" label, Sikkema called for completing the recycling package, fighting the ozone non-attainment standard, changing chemical spill reporting procedures, pursuing some of the Governor's Land Use Council recommendations, assessing agricultural land use, and updating the Drain Code.

Forest Land Enhancement Grant applications Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials announced that applications are now being accepted for the new Forest Land Enhancement Program.

The Forest Land Enhancement Program was authorized by Congress under the 2002 Farm Bill. The program is established to promote sustainable forestry management on non-industrial private forestland through technical assistance, education, outreach and financial incentives. It is administered nationally and grants are funded through the USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry program.

Non-industrial, private landowners who own and intend to manage at least five wooded acres are eligible to apply, and participation is voluntary. Applications will be accepted year-round and ranked based on national and state priorities, as described in the Michigan State Priority Plan. Cost-share contracts will be awarded quarterly.

Grant applications for the 2004 contract award periods must be received by Mar. 1, May 21, and Aug. 20, respectively. All grants require matching funds of 35 to 50 percent, depending on the cost-share practice. The match may be made up of cash contributions and in-kind services, but may not include federal funds. Grants up to $10,000 per year may be awarded.

To obtain a grant application or for more information, contact Debra Huff, Forest Stewardship Coordinator, at 517-335-3355, DNR Forest, Mineral and Fire Management, PO Box 30452, Lansing, MI 48909-7952, or visit the website at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Federal Lawsuit Filed to Stop Killing of Double-Crested Cormorants –

The Fund for Animals, The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New Your challenging the federal government’s plan to kill double-crested cormorants. The suit is in response to a recent decision for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow state fish and wildlife agencies, Indian tribes and the USDA to take cormorants in 24 states where the birds are depleting fish stocks and in 13 states where they are impacting commercial fish farms.

Supplemental Feeding Allowed In Some Northern Counties Along Lake Superior –

During last week’s meeting of the Natural Resources Commission, approval was give for the resumption of supplemental feeding of deer along the Lake Superior shoreline to help the animals survive a harsh Upper Peninsula winter. The counties impacted include Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, Alger, Luce and the northern parts of Marquette and Chippewa Counties. Winter feeding is still banned in the rest of the state.

The NRC rule requires residents to obtain permits from the Department of Natural Resources before feeding. The feed must be in grain or palletized form and must be scattered to keep animals from concentrating in small areas. The feed also must be at least one mile from livestock or agricultural crops and at least a quarter-mile from a paved road.

Senate Delays Confirmation of New NRC Commissioners The Senate Appropriations Natural Resources Subcommittee failed to take action of the appointment of Mary Brown and Robert Hall to the Natural Resources Commission. Senate Michele McManus indicated that she had to talk to Senator Ken Sikkema before she would schedule another confirmation hearing. The Senate has until March 13 to act on the appointments or they automatically go into effect.

Legislature Passes Fee Package The Michigan Senate concurred with a conference committee report on providing for new fees for people who discharge pollutants into Michigan’s waters. This is the first time people (including manufacturers, municipal treatment systems, and farms) will be required to pay a fee which will generate $5 million in new revenue. The Governor is expected to veto the bill however because a provision which prohibits the Department of Environmental Quality for writing rules to implement the fee program. If both sides stick to their guns and a fee system isn't passed by the end of February, DEQ officials say they will run out of money to monitor the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Fund (NPDES) and the program will be returned to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for administration.

Donna Stine
Policy Specialist
Michigan United Conservation Clubs
PO Box 30235
2101 Wood Street
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 346-6487 - phone
(517) 371-1505 - Fax
[email protected]
 
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