Michigan is in the process of passing a bill (S.B. 78 (S-1)) that will take biodiversity and conservation out of the "toolbox" of "tools" the Department of Natural Resources can use to make decisions about land use and classification.
Listening to the politicians (who are in favor of it), you'd think that this is merely word smithing, not really tying the hands of those who are in charge of protecting our lands, wildlife and environment. BUT, if you read the Floor Summary (the politicians' own document), here is what it says:
The bill would amend several parts of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to do the following:
-- Prohibit the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Natural Resources Commission from promulgating or enforcing a rule or an order that designates or classifies an area of land specifically for the purpose of achieving or maintaining biological diversity.
-- Delete the conservation of biological diversity from the DNR's duties regarding forest management, and require the Department to balance its forest management activities with economic values.
-- Eliminate a requirement that the DNR manage forests in a manner that promotes restoration.
-- Provide that a State department or agency would not have to designate or classify an area of land specifically for the purpose of achieving or maintaining biological diversity.
-- Delete a legislative finding that most losses of biological diversity are the result of human activity.
Part 355 (Biological Diversity Conservation) specifies a State goal "to encourage the lasting conservation of biological diversity". The bill would define "conservation of biological diversity" as measures for maintaining, managing, or enhancing biological diversity while ensuring accessibility, productivity, and use of the natural resources for present and future generations. The bill would eliminate the definition of "conservation", which means measures for maintaining and restoring natural biological diversity through management efforts in order to protect, restore, and enhance as much of the variety of native species and communities as possible in quantities and distributions that provide for the continued existence and normal functioning of native species and communities.
Now, I may not be a lawyer, or a politician, but this sure sounds to me like they are aiming to take away ANY power the DNR might have for protecting land/water/wildlife/ecosystems. It also sounds to me like this is a bill that is very likely sponsored by developers - money first, development first. The heck with the needs of any other life form in Michigan.
And since when are politicians better equipped to make decisions about biological integrity?
Michiganders: call your politicians - don't do the email thing. Call them...take a stand. Don't sacrifice your lands to greed.