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Legislation Would Ban State-Designated "Biodiversity Areas"

Photo: David Roberts, MSU Extension.
Photo: David Roberts, MSU Extension.

There’s a hearing this week in Lansing on legislation that would stop the state from setting aside hundreds of acres strictly for the purpose of nurturing native plants and animals.

Opponents and supporters of the legislation packed a hearing last week on the measure.

“To do away with that designation, to me, is a big step backwards in the protection of what makes Michigan ‘Pure Michigan,’” says Democratic state Senator Rebekah Warren.

But Republican state Senator Tom Casperson says there are already too many restrictions on public land. He says more access to trees, wildlife, minerals and other natural resources could help create business opportunities and jobs. 

“What’s the balance here?” he asks. “Because right now they’ve got a lot of tools to do exactly what they’re trying to do here. Why this one?”

He lists executive orders, wilderness areas and the invasive species act as examples of other tools available to protect native plants and wildlife.

Casperson’s legislation would also scrub from the law books a finding that human activity is the primary culprit behind habitat loss.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.