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Editorial: DNR land cap legislation wrong for the public

June 22, 2012
The Alpena News

There is no such thing as "too much" publicly-owned land.

The more the public owns in Michigan, the richer all our lives are as a result. No, none of us ever will benefit financially from that ownership, but culturally, all our lifestyles are enhanced and enriched by the state's ownership of beautiful woods and water.

Thus, we are disappointed to see legislation authored by State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, that would cap Department of Natural Resources land purchases at 4,626,000 acres. The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Synder for his signature.

While Casperson maintains his goal through the legislation is to make DNR officials more accountable for the land and to ensure solid management plans are in place for the property, we believe it moves conservation efforts in the state backward, with little foresight moving forward.

Casperson was in Alpena earlier this year to hold a public hearing on the matter. At the time we published an editorial against the proposal, so our position on this legislation is nothing new.

The bill narrowly was approved this week by Michigan House members, 58-52. Voting against the measure was State Rep. Peter Pettalia.

Earlier, when the legislation was approved by the Senate, Sen. John Moolenaar voted in favor of it, thus putting our two legislators in opposition to each other regarding the bill's benefits.

While this legislation is not so controversial as to raise front page headlines across the state, it is the kind that should scare lawmakers facing election. Definitely it is receiving a lot of attention by conservation organizations in the state, with the Michigan United Conservation Club, for instance, being on record calling for Gov. Snyder to veto the measure.

When you look around Northeast Michigan and see the many benefits of public land ownership, it makes this measure all the more disappointing.

Should the governor sign it into law, it will be a sad day for Michigan residents everywhere.



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