Stateside
4:40 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Setting aside land in Michigan for biodiversity? Casperson says 'check with us first'

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

The State Department of Natural Resources has been in the planning process of this idea to create what it calls Biodiversity Stewardship Areas.

These areas would include both state and private land.

All the stakeholders were on board in the early planning process - hunting groups, environmentalists - most everyone - until someone became alarmed because the plan could have potentially stopped human access to some areas.

Well, if you even hint that hunters or timber companies can’t have access, you’ve got a problem.

State Senator Tom Casperson (R- Escanaba) has introduced a bill that would prohibit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from setting aside an area of land specifically for the purpose of maintaining biological diversity.

In part it reads:

THE DEPARTMENT, DIRECTOR, OR COMMISSION SHALL NOT PROMULGATE OR ENFORCE A RULE OR ISSUE OR ENFORCE AN ORDER UNDER THIS ACT THAT DESIGNATES OR CLASSIFIES AN AREA OF LAND SPECIFICALLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACHIEVING OR MAINTAINING BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY...

According to Casperson, the MDNR should request approval for each proposal from the State Legislature.

“It’s not that they can’t do it, but it needs oversight,” Casperson said in an interview with Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham.

In an interview with Michigan Radio’s Rebecca Williams, Casperson said:

“The problem I think we get caught up in is, when we do something like this, it becomes an all or nothing thing. Where, you know, you don’t care for the environment because you don’t go along with a biodiversity stewardship area, well, it’s not that I don’t go along with it. I’ve supported set asides, I’ve supported wilderness areas, I’ve voted for those things. But I do think there needs to be more oversight than what has been happening in the past."

The bill, SB 78, has passed the state Senate, and it awaits a vote in the State House.

Casperson introduced a similar bill last fall SB 1267. It also passed the State Senate, but was never brought up in the House.

Governor Rick Snyder told us in November that he did not support SB 1276.

It remains to be seen whether he would support this bill.