In Spite of Our Efforts, Public Land Acquisitions Could Be Capped in Northern Michigan

As most of you know, the collective WE have been fighting the Michigan Land Cap Bill SB-248 for many months. Although many conservation partners were able to secure some improvements to this ill-conceived piece of legislation, the compromise amendment which sought to exclude the northern portion of the lower peninsula was removed prior to passage.

Here’s the assessment provided by the Michigan League of Conservation Voters:

“The Land Cap Bill, SB 248, passed the House on Thursday after legislators rejected a compromise amendment on Tuesday, a saga we’ve covered extensively. The compromise would have exempted the entire Lower Peninsula from the Land Cap, allowing the DNR to add much-needed public land in southern Michigan and important missing pieces of critical land in northern Michigan.

On Tuesday, though, the House voted to reject the compromise Schmidt Amendment — named for its sponsor, Rep. Wayne Schmidt (R – Traverse City) — and instead adopted a substitute bill to specifically cap public land in the Lower Peninsula. So much for the spirit of compromise. It’s not as if this was a partisan deal, either. A number of GOP officials were upset about the move, too, and voted against the break in trust.

Even with the bipartisan opposition, though, the bill still passed on Thursday by a margin of just four votes; not coincidently, there were exactly four northern Michigan legislators who voted to put their own districts under the cap. (There were also some northern Michigan legislators who should be commended for voting against the Land Cap Bill and with their constituents in mind).

To add insult to injury in blocking public recreation up north, two regional funding opportunities were stripped from the recommended Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriations bill. Without these two provisions, funding will not be available before 2014 for unanticipated, but important, acquisitions in northern Michigan. It’s like finding that perfect house and having the bank deny your mortgage because you didn’t let them know you wanted it two years prior (and didn’t even know it would be available).”

About Northern Michigan Conservation Network

The mission of the Northern Michigan Conservation Network is to "connect conservation-minded hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts to those issues affecting Michigan's forests, waters, and wildlife."

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