More changes coming to land cap bill?

The Michigan House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation took up testimony again this past week on Senate Bill 248 – the bill to cap the amount of available public land in Michigan – where the idea of some possible amendments was discussed.

MUCC recently got its hands on those proposed amendments and the proposals are to create a committee that would look at and approve land acquisition projects that would take the number of acres over the cap, to require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop an acquisition strategy by 2012, to makes changes to the Commercial Forest Act exemption, and to remove land acquired by litigation from the exemptions.

MUCC has been working towards making amendments that would develop a land acquisition plan for each region of the state. It would logically follow that once a plan is in place, the cap should sun-set to allow the state, local communities, and local stakeholders to carry out that plan.

While the proposed amendments are a step in the right direction - the requirement for an acquisition plan is laudable, and the creation of an advisory committee does allow for more flexibility - they still do not fix the problem of the great disparity of public land between some areas and counties in this state.

Recent accounts state that the Upper Peninsula has close to 50% of public land in this state, while southern Michigan, home to all of Michigan’s large population centers, contains merely 4%.

So, if the desire is to develop a plan that will direct more land purchases to the southern part of the state near our population centers, why hamper that goal with an arbitrary cap? The supporting position seems to be, “the state has too much land.” But what they don’t seem to want to do is acknowledge that other parts suffer the opposite fate. Some have little to no publicly accessible lands on which to recreate. For “Pure Michigan,” that is a very bad thing.

The bill is scheduled to be brought up for a vote in the House Natural Resources committee next Tuesday morning. MUCC is opposed to this bill as currently written.

Action calls and e-mails are needed to your legislator to tell them to vote NO on this bill.



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