Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

April 5, 2013

Forum: Anti-biodiversity bill rolls back protections

In their misguided efforts to redefine conservation, too many lawmakers in Lansing are defining themselves as anti-science, anti-sustainability, and anti-Pure Michigan. The best example of that, Senate Bill 78 - the “anti-biodiversity” bill - is on a fast-track through the Legislature right now. The impact of this dangerous piece of legislation would vastly limit the Department of Natural Resources’ ability to enforce landmark conservation legislation like the Endangered Species Act; could jeopardize Michigan’s efforts to attract federal dollars; and would hamstring efforts to promote our state as an outdoor recreation destination.

The bill targets the scientifically proven and widely accepted principle of biodiversity - a concept that you might remember from high school biology - that demonstrates that ecosystems with a wide variety of plants and animals are healthier and more sustainable. By greatly restricting the DNR from considering biodiversity as part of its comprehensive land use policy, the legislation jeopardizes the forests, lakes, native plants and animals that make Michigan a world-renowned destination.

This is not just an environmental issue. At 3.9 million acres, Michigan has the largest state forest system in the country; it’s something we should be proud of, not try to dismantle. Our natural resources are drivers of Michigan’s economy and the bedrock of the Pure Michigan ad campaign that draws people to our beaches, forests, and lakes from across America.

If we roll back critical protections for the natural beauty that we are known for, then we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Not only are we losing out on the tangible economic value from our state’s robust tourism economy, but we also miss out on the priceless economic value of a thriving ecosystem and beautiful places where Michiganders go to get away for a family vacation or a quiet weekend.

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