Lack of Attention to Conservation Issues?November 2nd, 2012
Having an understanding of where Michigan’s legislators stand on key conservation and natural resources issues is important to MUCC and our work. With almost 250 candidates running for spots in the Michigan House and Congress, we did our best to get to know their thoughts.
A full month before the election, we sent out questionnaires highlighting several key issues we think will be landmark issues in the legislature. I began by painstakingly printing, stapling and stuffing hard copies of these questionnaires and subsequently sending them to all 243 candidates. We heard back from 85.
An online link to a survey monkey was included, since everything is easier online. We received 27 responses online. Astonishingly low.
I included my email so candidates could send in their responses electronically. I received 11 candidate responses within a month. Isn’t email one of the primary forms of communication these days?
I collected the remaining 47 via fax and postal mail. The candidates had three weeks to respond to our 6-question survey with a circled YES or NO and had several methods of turning them in.
After 3 weeks, we began to wonder what the problem was. So we switched into high gear and called up and emailed the remaining 158 candidates. Some came in slowly, mostly via email and the online survey. Our efforts resulted in our total of 85 responses, 11 from congressional candidates (26 in total) and 74 from the 217 state representative candidates.
The lack of response and attention given to these crucial issues is worrisome, and not just at the state level. The Great Lakes Conference Presidential forum, where Obama and Romney were invited to highlight their plans to stop Asian Carp, also received poor commitment from our presidential candidates. The Obama camp sent an alternative speaker while the Romney camp sent nobody.
Conservation and Natural resources issues need legislative action these days to appropriate funds, safeguard polices and facilitate assistance and restoration programs. A positive relationship with environmentally-aware legislators is a powerful tool in Michigan.
Whoever is elected next Tuesday needs to be aware of the importance of Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage.
These outdoor issues are critical to Michigan’s heritage; we are a leading state in hunting and angling. Recreation is a way of life for many and is a strong part of Michigan’s economy; forests, State lands, outdoor recreation and fisheries all add up to incorporate jobs and direct income within Michigan.
Building a relationship with and informing legislators is the key to advancing policies benefiting our natural resources. The lack of response from our candidates means we must take it upon ourselves to reach out to these newly elected legislators; attend their coffee hour, visit them and start a conversation. Having relationships with these legislators will ensure that conservation and natural resource issues don’t fall to the wayside.