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DEMOCRACY TREE: Senator wants public funds to pave logging roads

by Amy Kerr HardinDSCN0444-150x150
One week after Gov. Rick Snyder told Sen. Tom Casperson (R-38, Escanaba) his attack plan on the science behind biodiversity was headed for the veto pile, the lumber baron – birther-wolf crying – lawmaker is at it again. This time he’s resurrected another piece of bad legislation from 2013.
Nearly two years ago, Casperson proposed a law designed to tap the Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund for the purpose of building logging and mining roads and dredging harbors for the benefit of private industry — including his family’s log hauling business — Casperson and Son Trucking.
On the first day of the new session this month, the lawmaker’s greed and hubris reared up again with his re-introduction of the exact same proposal — verbatim. The only difference is the bill number, going from SB-214 to SB-16, and the fact that this time around he couldn’t seem to scrounge-up a single co-sponsor.
Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund was established to acquire land for “recreational uses or protection of the land because of its environmental importance or its scenic beauty.” In short — it has helped preserve the Great Lakes State as one of the most beautiful places in the world… and that may all be rapidly coming to an end.
Parsing through the bill’s somewhat specious language, we discover funds may be used for the “development and maintenance of trails and roads on state land… [to build] infrastructure directly related to natural-resource-based industries, including timber harvesting and mining… infrastructure on waterways including breakwaters and dredging.”
The trust fund has been instrumental in identifying and preserving public spaces and park lands across the state. Included among them is a new shoreline park on Grand Traverse Bay replacing a strip of run-down and abandoned buildings. This park project is nearly complete, but other communities will not be so lucky if Casperson’s plan succeeds this time around.
The previous incarnation died in the Senate Committee for Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes. Yesterday’s bill was assigned to the Committee on Outdoor Recreation and Tourism — with a 4 to 1 Republican ratio:
Committee Members:
• Goeff Hansen (R) Committee Chair, 34th District
• Dale Zorn (R) Vice Chair, 17th District
• Wayne A Schmidt (R) 37th District
• Mike Green (R) 31st District
• Bert Johnson (D) Minority Vice Chair, 2nd District
Committee Clerk 517-373-1721
logging Please feel free to contact the committee members if you have an opinion.

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