By John Richter
Michigan’s Legislature quietly passed SB78 removing “biodiversity” from consideration in managing our public-owned natural resources. Nature, diversity of species and environmental quality now take a back seat to industrial development in our state forests.
The logging era over a century ago destroyed our virgin forests, caused extinction of species and degradation of our waterways. The concept of biodiversity and ecological health was incorporated into natural resource management policies to prevent such large-scale deforestation and degradation from ever happening again. The era of Conservation was born.
Forests regrew to become viable ecosystems with diversity of plant and animal species. Healthy, diverse forests mean streams and rivers run cleaner and faster. Forest rejuvenation provides opportunities for people to hunt, fish, canoe, birdwatch and snowmobile. It provides for sustainable harvest of high-quality timber.
But times have changed once again. Gov.Snyder, under the guise of economic growth, has turned our forests into a commodity. New State Forest Management guidelines increase timber harvesting to unsustainable levels. Millions of acres of state land leased for gas and oil extraction (fracking) allow forest destruction and toxic contamination of vast quantities of water.
These are public-owned lands, our lands. They were set aside and protected for good reasons. Who gave the OK to turn them over to industry for private and even international profit?
Land use decisions such as passage of SB 78 are being made behind closed doors and crammed through in legislative blitzkriegs.
The public has not been informed or engaged.
Removing biodiversity as a management tool in managing our state lands opens floodgates of industrialization and pollution into our pristine waterways and forests. As citizens, we should not have to sacrifice our quality of life and that of future generations for short-term, shortsighted profit for a few. Restore and sustain biodiversity.
About the author: Dr. John Richter is President of Friends of the Jordan
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