Should the Michigan Department of Natural Resources have the power to set aside an area of land specifically to maintain biological diversity?
It means protecting the variety of plants and animals living in that area.
The question has fueled passage of Senate Bill 78 in the State Senate. It awaits action in the State House.
The bill would prohibit the Michigan DNR from setting aside land specifically for maintaining biodiversity.
The MDNR would have to ask permission each time it wanted to set aside land.
Senate Bill 78 is sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba).
He thinks the MDNR should have to request approval from the Legislature each time it wants to set aside land.
Two weeks ago, Stateside spoke with Senator Casperson about the bill.
"Biodiverity can mean different things to different parts of the land. We think there should be oversight. It seems like it's dependent on who's in charge that gets to do that. And we have a concern with that, especially when you look at what they already have. A lot of the argument against this was designed to sound like, if they don't have this specific ability that they're done. They can't do anything to protect biodiversity. I don't believe that to be true. Not with 22 tools in the toolbox to do that."
The MDNR had been planning to create "Biodiversity Stewardship Areas" on both state and private land.
These areas would assist in encouraging biodiversity.
It seemed that most everyone was on board - environmentalists, hunting groups - and then things got derailed with the new bill.
Today, we got a chance to speak with Marv Roberson, a forest ecologist with the Sierra Club.
He gives us insight on what Biodiversity Stewardship Areas could do for Michigan and how Senate Bill 78 will have an impact on our state.
Listen to the full interview above.