Three Natural Resources Bills On Way To House

A number of natural resources based bills passed the Michigan Senate recently and will now head to the House of Representatives. Below is a summary of each:
SB 1276 – The big impetus behind this bill was to get rid of the DNR’s much maligned “Biodiversity Stewardship Areas” (BSAs) or “Living Legacies Program.” When originally proposed, MUCC raised a number of concerns about the BSA program and what effect it would have on current forest management planning and the compartment review process.
SB 1280 – Sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson, SB 1280 would impose a term-limit for the Natural Resources Commission of two terms. The bill also adds to the intent of the DNR that they will “optimiz[e] natural resource based economic activity and recreational opportunities on land owned or controlled by the department,” as well as adding the intent of the department to “promote the development of the forestry and forest products industry and the mineral extraction and utilization industry in this state.”  
SB 1238 – Sponsored by Sen. Darwin Booher, SB 1238 places term-limits of 2 full terms on Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) board members, who are appointed by the Governor. The bill also requires the NRTF board to prioritize its recommended projects by giving particular consideration to a number of factors, including the following:
  • Projects within a local until of government that has adopted a resolution in favor of the project;
  • Give a legal description and include estimated cost of project and assessed value;
  • Special consideration for acquisitions located in counties with 50% or more privately owned land, not already preserved by other conservation organizations, and allows motorized access;
The bill also requires that the DNR give a bimonthly update on its website as to the progress of current Trust Fund projects. Projects or acquisitions where the seller is not willing, or where the board determines the seller was harassed or intimidated shall not be considered by the NRTF board.
MUCC had some concerns with the initial way the bills were written, but significant changes were made before the bills passed out of the Senate. MUCC is neutral on all three bills as they head to the House.

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