Okay, it’s the time of year when everyone seems to use the looming new year as an “opportunity” to look back at the past 12 months rather than making the kind of effort necessary to write or produce something new or creative over the holidays. In an effort to prove that we are not above such slothful behavior, we will revisit some of the year’s past issues and column topics.
We Have Issues
As a web/blog site which has only been in existence for a year, any look back at the past 12 months must begin with the reasons for its founding. Chief among those was to try to create an increased level of awareness within the northern Michigan conservation and outdoor community about the unprecedented volume of legislative initiatives whose purpose has been to reform and redefine how natural resources are to be managed within the state.
Based upon the content of these bills, together with the public comments made by their legislative authors, the basic premise seemed to be that Michigan’s natural resources were being managed by a left-leaning, out-of-control agency which seemed to be more concerned about protecting endangered species and closing lands to access then they were about meeting the needs of the state’s residents.
Of course, this characterization played well to long-time DNR-bashers and increasing anti-government sentiment. As is the case with most stereotypes, enough anecdotal examples can usually be found to seemingly provide support for such characterizations – however absurd.
Many of us opposed this effort to politically mandate changes in resource management policy, not because we are blind defenders of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, but because most of the policies posed for reversal have been decades in the making. They are the result of policy proposal and debate which has taken place between the citizens of the outdoor community and the State’s resource management professionals for generations – largely with the expressed goal of keeping politicians OUT of the decision-making process.
The poster child for this legislative initiative was SB-248, the Land Cap Bill which sought to limit public land ownership by the State of Michigan, as well as the amount it could manage. In spite of the collective efforts of those in the Michigan conservation community, an amended version of SB-248 was signed into law by Governor Snyder. The Governor did so with the pledge that the legislatively-required strategic planning process would be completed within the two-year time line in order to allow for the cap to be removed.
The year 2012 was also a time when it appears that “biodiversity” became a bad word. Back in October, our then-Contributing Editor Drew YoungeDyke provided us with a good perspective on SB-1276 which sought to eliminate the Living Legacies program. The reality was that the bill was more about the concept of biodiversity than it was about any one program.
For those of us who were actively engaged in the debate which dates back decades, to now be told by those who were nowhere to be found at that time that our acceptance of biodiversity is somehow part of global conspiracy, is truly rich. That was a time when wise-use conservationists (as opposed to non-use) argued for active land management and habitat diversity in opposition to those in the land preservationist/protectionist community who believed in the pre-European settlement/old growth forestation model. Who would have ever believed that our last line of defense from an attempt to vilify efforts to preserve what amounts to a handful of unique and irreplaceable bio-communities would be the Forest Certification Program compliance requirements? Thanks, Home Depot!
Speaking of Going Global
This global conspiratorial thinking leads us to what was far and away our most popular post of the year. This column was written after seeing legislation introduced which finally supported the rumors we had been hearing for months earlier. Those rumors being, that much of the legislation which we found ourselves responding to was actually being driven by those who subscribed to the belief that many of our government officials are operating under an edict defined by a 1992 United Nations publication titled Agenda 21: The Earth Summit Strategy to Save our Planet.
Given the fact that this topic involved the United Nations and considering the global nature of internet search engines, it should not have been surprising that such a topic would attract international “clicking,” as well What was surprising, however, was its depth and breadth. Of the 35 different nations represented by viewers on our site during the past year, the Agenda 21 post represented 17% of our total site visits. This was more than double our second most popular post which was the New Conservation Model.
Although the New Conservation Model column was #2 in site visits, what was most interesting about the activity surrounding the post was that a large part of its popularity was derived from viewers from India. While we remain both pleased and perplexed by its international reach, we would welcome a response by one of the readers from that part of the world to tell us what relevance this story has to lives or conservation policy there in India.
Not all of news on the conservation front was bad this year, however. Many of the bills and issues we wrote about have been favorably resolved or are otherwise languishing in State House or Senate committees. Whether these simply ran out of time, support, or both in many cases is unknown. What is known, however, is our favorite quote of the week. When it comes to conservation issues, “All wins are temporary, but all losses are permanent.”