A paddler prepares to enjoy Silver Lake at the Pinckney State Recreation Area

Legislation that will significantly impact the state’s ability to acquire and strategically manage state lands for you and your grandchildren to enjoy is moving through the state legislature now. Senate Bill 248 (S-2)  would cap the amount of land held for the people of our state by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Once it reaches the proposed cap of 4.65 million acres, the MDNR would have to dispose of an equivalent amount of acres before it could acquire additional land. 

Economic factors are cited as reason for the land cap, but the short-sighted legislation loses sight of what’s best for Michigan and its residents in the long run.  Senate Bill 248 passed in the Michigan Senate in June 2011 and is expected to go to the House by September 2011. 

Nothing better embodies “Pure Michigan” than the scenic and inviting public parks, forests, game areas and recreational trailways that are open to all. From sweeping vistas of the Great Lakes to pocket-sized hideaway campgrounds and trackless areas of hunting land, our public lands set Michigan apart as a recreation and tourism paradise. This generates both tourism dollars and many jobs as well as contributes to our overall quality of life. Additionally, the forest products, oil, natural gas, and minerals produced on our public lands provide critical raw materials and thousands of jobs for Michigan citizens. To limit our ability to acquire and manage key recreational resources by applying an arbitrary cap would be a grave error. 

Here in the Huron River watershed, we boast the largest state recreational areas in Michigan, and these state-owned lands along with other natural areas are the main reason we enjoy the cleanest river in Southeast Michigan.  These natural areas filter water pollution, keep our creeks and river running cool and steady, absorb floodwaters, purify the air, and provide homes to wildlife.  Their forests, fields, ponds, creeks and wetlands provide us a refuge, too, from our busy urban and suburban lives. 

At best, the legislation will have unintended consequences. At worst, it’s simply an end-around attempt at forcing the state to sell off public land to deep-pocketed developers. 

Most importantly, if passed in its existing form, this legislation could require the immediate sale of more than 250,000 acres of state land! 

Click here to find your Representative; call your Representative and tell them to vote no on Senate Bill 248. 

Click here for more information about the bill from Heart of the Lakes. 

Lakes and wetlands like this one in Pinckney State Recreation Area provide wildlife habitat and keep our river clean.