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Avoid felt soles to protect rivers like this from aquatic invasive species.
A New Life for Old Waders
by Drew YoungeDyke

I had a problem; I may have a solution. You see, I've only been fly-fishing for a few years, so by the time I bought my first pair of waders I'd already heard of how felt soles can carry aquatic invasive species (AIS) between watersheds. However, I was so broke at the time that I could only afford hip waders, which was a mistake, in retrospect. Before that, I had used my grandpa's old Cabela's chest waders, but they had felt soles. I won't get too far into whether or not felt soles should be banned; a lot of anglers a lot smarter than me have said to ditch the felt, and I don't want to be the asshole who introduces rock snot or whirling disease into my favorite river. Whether or not Michigan ever bans them like Maryland, Vermont, and Alaska have, I won't be the one to wear felt soles in Michigan waters. 

The problem with hip waders, of course, is that you're bound to fish deeper waters. So I'd get wet, which isn't a problem in the middle of July but can be a chilly proposition at the end of April in northern Michigan. I'd love to be able to run out to Orvis and buy a new pair of studded-sole chest waders, but student loans, nonprofit employment, and matrimony prohibit that option. 

So, what to do? The potential answer hung on my garage wall: my grandpa's old waders. If the only thing standing between me and chest-deep waters was a couple strips of felt, I decided that I would "just" remove the felt. I first tried my folding knife, but that didn't do it. Apparently, Cabelas did not intend their felt soles to be removable. It was my Wyoming saw that did the trick, which is a packable bow saw with a fine hacksaw blade and a rough blade for wood. I made few careful strokes with the hacksaw blade at the toe to separate the sole, then worked my way down. When the sole was removed, I roughed up the smooth rubber under-sole with the wood blade. 

I don't yet know how well they will grip wet rocks in a moving river. I'll find out this weekend while attending a full training to collect aquatic insects for a Huron River Watershed Council survey later this Spring. If they're slick, I may try attaching shallow screws as studs. I won't recommend that you immediately run out to your garage and saw off your felt soles; I am a lawyer, after all, and don't want to be responsible for you slipping on a rock in the middle of a stream. What I'm advocating is that you think of ways that you can reduce the chance that you introduce aquatic invasive species to Michigan waters. You can find more ideas about how to do that here.

 
 
 
This post was originally published on the Michigan LCV blog on March 2, 2012. Re-posted with permission. 
Gone in 48 Hours
Rep. Franz's Bill Would Put the Brakes on Clean Energy Jobs, 
but Swift Response Stops It In Its Tracks
by Drew YoungeDyke

As you may have read by now, the Michigan Public Service Commission released a report just over a week ago which said that electricity providers were on track to meet Michigan’s renewable energy standard of 10% by 2015, and that getting there cost much less than they anticipated - so much so that Consumers Energy reduced their renewable energy surcharge by 75%. So what’s the next logical next step for a burgeoning clean energy manufacturing economy? According to Rep. Ray Franz (R - Onekama), it’s to scrap the renewable energy standard altogether.

What? Yeah, really. On Leap Day, Rep. Franz introduced HB 5447, which would repeal the sections of the 2008 Clean, Renewable, and Energy Efficiency Act that contain the renewable energy standard for electric utilities and the energy efficiency standards for natural gas providers. That’s quite a leap, indeed. We need to take advantage of the manufacturing gains we’ve made as a result of the 2008 standard, as highlighted in the State of the Union, and put the petal to the metal on clean energy job creation.

The MIRS News Service, widely read in the Capitol, quoted Michigan LCV Political Director Ryan Werder on this bill:

"Everyone from the utilities to the Governor to manufacturers to the Public Service Commission agree that the existing renewable energy standard works and that Michigan is on pace to meet it. The RES spurs investment in Michigan's expanding clean energy manufacturing sector that directly supports tens of thousands of jobs. Repealing it, as Rep. Franz is trying to do, would be sending a legislative pink slip to thousands of workers."

Both Consumers Energy and DTE told MIRS that they would continue their renewable enegy plans and that they oppose Rep. Franz's bill. 

The 2008 standard is a great start, but since it was enacted, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio have enacted higher standards. When clean energy manufacturers are deciding where to locate their plants, you better believe that transportation and shipping costs are considered. They’re going to build new plants where the renewable energy demand is and where workers will be installing and maintaining clean energy facilities.

Michigan has unsurpassed manufacturing talent. We can out-compete other Great Lakes states for clean energy jobs as long as we can match them for renewable energy demand. That’s why the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs coalition has introduced the 25% by 2025 ballot initiative. It builds on the 2008 standard and contains a 1% rate cap, which means that utilities cannot raise rates more than 1% a year due to the standard. In light of the Public Service Commission report, though, it’s obvious that they won’t have to. As older coal plants reach the end of their useful lifespan, it’s cheaper to replace them with new wind farms than new coal plants.

Rep. Franz’s bill, though, would slam the brakes on clean energy job creation. It’s not the first anti-clean energy bill he’s introduced, either. His HB 4499 would ban offshore wind development, yet he supports oil drilling in the Great Lakes. It’s obvious why Michiganders oppose Great Lakes oil drilling - just remember the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill - but it’s not clear why anyone would oppose wind turbines on the lakes. Maybe he’s worried they’ll spill wind into Lake Michigan. Northern Michigan deserves better.

Even Michigan’s electric providers oppose HB 5447, so it’s unlikely to go anywhere. This bill was so bad and our response so swift that it took less than 48 hours to kill it. Bills like these point to one very large truth, though: the legislature cannot be trusted with our clean energy future. Thankfully, the 25% by 2025 ballot proposal allows the citizens of Michigan to take control of their own future and vote it directly into the Michigan Constitution. Rather than politicians like Rep. Franz telling you that you can’t have clean energy, this ballot proposal allows you to tell your politicians that you want clean energy and the manufacturing jobs that come with it.

When bills this dangerous and ridiculous are introduced, we will often ask readers like you to send a message to your congressman. We ask you to take action. In this case, though, the action needed is for you to do everything you can to get 25% by ‘25 on the November ballot, and to vote for it once it’s there.

Sign the petition when it comes your way. Contact us to find out how you can help gather petition signatures. Talk to your friends about this ballot proposal. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Donate to Michigan LCV to help us spread the word and keep on top of bills like these so that we can meet them with the swift response that killed this one. In fact, if you donate at least $15, we'll send you a pint glass proclaiming your love for the Great Lakes

Only by taking our clean energy economy out of the hands of politicians and putting it into the hands of Michigan citizens can we be sure that bills like Rep. Franz’s never stall Michigan’s clean energy manufacturing future. 
 
 
This post was originally published on the Michigan LCV blog on February 22, 2012. Re-posted with permission. 
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Missing Winter
by Drew YoungeDyke

A
few weeks ago, the groundhog saw his shadow and we were told to expect six more weeks of winter, to which I replied, "what winter?" 

Ann Arbor is expected to get up to five inches of snow on Friday, and I say it's about time. I've been able to take my cross-county skis out exactly once this winter, and I had to carry them on the way back because the snow was already melting. It's not just my own outdoor recreation that's taken a hit this winter, though: businesses across the state which rely on outdoor tourism have taken a hit, too. 

A recent Gaylord Herald-Times article profiled Larry Sevenski, owner of a restaurant that caters to snowmobilers. He said that this winter has been the worst in over thirty years, and the National Weather Service announced that Gaylord is four feet short of its annual snowfall average this year. The Petoskey Winter Carnival was even cancelled last week due to a lack of snow (they'll try again on Saturday). 

This unusually mild winter could be trouble for wetlands, too. This CBC Canada article quotes McMaster University wetland ecologist Pat Chow-Fraser who warns that low ice cover on Lake Superior allows more water to evaporate and less to flow into the lake's coastal wetlands, which could affect spawning rates for Great Lakes fish. 

I'm not a scientist, so I'm not qualified to attribute the specific events of this winter to climate change. The Union of Concerned Scientists are scientists, though (it's right there in the name), and they predict that climate change will result in wetter winters with more rain and snowfall, but less ice and snow cover due to faster melts, as detailed in this Huron River Watershed Council newsletter

In short, we can expect more winters like this if we keep filling our atmosphere with heat-trapping greenhouse gases. That may seem alright to folks who dislike snow, but then why live in Michigan if you don't like snow? It's not just snow that will be missing, though: climate change means fewer wetlands for ducks, warmer streams devoid of coldwater trout, and more diseases in deer herds. 

97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and that it is caused by burning fossil fuels. All is not lost, though. Fuel efficiency standards agreed to by the EPA and the Big Three auto-makers, among others, will reduce emissions from the cars we drive and the EPA's mercury standards will reduce emissions from coal plants. We can reduce those even more in Michigan, while creating tens of thousands of jobs and making the air we breathe healthier, by passing theRenewable Energy Standard proposed for this November's ballot. 

All it will take is for us to start listening to scientists more often than groundhogs about climate and weather. 

Help Michigan LCV pass the Renewable Energy Standard by becoming a membermaking a donation, or signing up for updates


 
 
This post was originally published on the Michigan LCV blog. Re-posted with permission. 
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Recommended Projects by County

Keeping the Trust
by Drew YoungeDyke

T
he Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund provides money for the state and for local counties, townships and cities to acquire and develop public recreation property. It is funded by royalties from oil and gas drilling on public lands as compensation to present and future Michigan citizens for the removal of a non-renewable resource belonging to the people of Michigan.

The citizens of Michigan voted the Trust Fund into the Constitution in 1984 to ensure that politicians didn’t subvert its purpose for political gain. A non-partisan advisory boardreviews and approves all the projects that receive funding. The sole job of the legislature is to approve the Trust Fund board's decisions by appropriating money from the Trust Fund to pay for the projects.

The Trust Fund advisory board has recently recommended 41 projects to receive funding from the Trust Fund in over 25 different counties, plus state acquisitions for the River Raisin Recreation Area in southeast Michigan and regional land consolidations across the state.

Some of the projects include the Acme Shoreline Park near Traverse City, renovating the Rutherford Pool in Ypsilanti, the Sands Lake Parkin Kalkaska County, and developing Pleasant Park in Kent County. These are projects in your communities that will provide families a place to swim, couples a place to go on a first date, your teenager a summer job, hunters a place to hunt, anglers a place to fish, and tourists a place to walk along the water between their hotel, the restaurant where they buy dinner, and the souvenir shop where they buy a memory of Pure Michigan®.

If you live in or near Arenac, Bay, Berrien, Cheboygan, Eaton, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Gogebic, Ionia, Iosco, Jackson, Kalkaska, Kent, Keweenaw, Leelanau, Manistee, Marquette, Monroe, Montcalm, Muskegon, Ottawa, Oakland, Roscommon, St. Clair, or Washtenaw Counties, then there is a project near you that will improve local recreation opportunities and put people to work making trails, resurfacing courts, building parks, and lifeguarding pools. Best of all, this money has been specifically set aside in the Michigan Constitution for these kinds of projects.

None of these projects, though, can move forward until the Michigan legislature appropriates Trust Fund money to them. The legislature has never before altered the board's recommendations, but a large infusion from record oil and gas leases in 2010 has some legislators casting greedy eyes on that money. One way they may seek to free it for other uses is to deny funding to approved projects. 

One of the arguments frequently cited for limiting Trust Fund purchases is that local townships have not always received their full Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILTs), which compensate for lost property tax revenue. A law enacted this summer, though, guarantees that all state lands purchased with Trust Fund dollars will have their PILTs paid in full by the Trust Fund. A majority of the funds, also, go directly to local, rather than state, projects. Of the approximately $39.7 million awarded, $29.7 million was awarded directly to a city, township or county. These local units of government cannot hire the workers to begin many of these projects, though, until the money is appropriated. This means that people who could be employed are not. 

You voted the Trust Fund into the Constitution to keep it away from legislators, and the only opportunity they have to mess with it is to fail to appropriate the funding or to limit the Trust Fund's legitimate purposes.

*UPDATE, March 1* Thanks to hundreds of Michigan LCV members who took action and e-mailed the appropriations committee, HB 5364 was passed out of committee on February 29 for the full House of Representatives to vote on it. Check in with Great Michigan's Legislation Watch to monitor its progress!

Here is the full list of recommended projects: 

Acquisition Projects

  • Pellegram property in Ottawa Co. (to Spring Lake Twp)
  • Harsens Island conservation area in St. Clair Co. (to Clay Twp)
  • Sparks county park trail connector in Jackson Co. (to Jackson Co.)
  • Prindle property in Bay Co. (to Bay Co.)
  • Riverfront park in St. Clair Co. (to Cottrellville Twp.)
  • Aloe property in Iosco Co. (to Iosco Co.)
  • Coastal wildlife corridor in Keweenaw Co. (to Eagle Harbor Twp.)
  • Blue Water river walk expansion in St. Clair Co. (to St. Clair Co.)
  • Arbor vistas preserve natural area connector in Washtenaw Co. (to Washtenaw Co.)
  • River Raisin recreation area
  • Wigwam Bay state wildlife area in Arenac County
  • Clay Cliffs natural area in Leelanau County (to Leland Twp)
  • Rail-trails
  • Sagimore property in Emmet County (to Resort Twp)
  • Acme waterfront park phase III(to Acme Twp)
  • Eco-regional land consolidation in the Upper Peninsula
  • CW2 Airline trailway in Oakland County (to Commerce, Walled Lake & Wixom trailway mgt council)
  • Eco-region acquisition in SW, SE, and Northern Lower Peninsula
  • Recreation trails in Marquette Co. (to Negaunee Twp)
 Development Projects
  • McCoy’s Creek trail development in Berrien Co. (to Buchanan)
  • Gallup Park canoe livery renovations in Washtenaw Co. (to Ann Arbor)
  • Bloomfield Park court resurfacing in Jackson Co. (to Jackson)
  • Lions Park beach improvements in Berrien Co. (to St. Joseph)
  • Sands Park development in Kalkaska Co. (to Coldsprings Twp)
  • Boardman Lake trail in Grand Traverse Co. (to Traverse City)
  • Lake St. Helen universal access development in Roscommon Co. (to Richfield Twp.)
  • Lake Odessa municipal beach development in Ionia Co. (to LakeOdessa)
  • Pleasant Park development in Kent County (to Kent County)
  • Historic bars park and garden development in Grand Traverse Co (to Garfield Twp)
  • Rutherford pool renovation in Washtenaw Co. (to Ypsilanti)
  • Veterans Mem. Skate Park development in Washtenaw Co. (to Ann Arbor)
  • Depot recreation park and trailhead improvements in Gogebic Co. (to Ironwood)
  • Manistee First St. beach house development in Manistee Co. (to Manistee)
  • Topinabee lakeside park improvements in Cheboygan Co. (to Mullet Twp)
  • Rotary Park development in Muskegon Co. (to Muskegon Co.)
  • Island Park development in Eaton Co. (to Dimondale)
  • Front St. pathway development in Leelanau Co. (to Suttons Bay)
  • Robert Lee Davis Mem Park improvements in Montcalm Co. (to McBride)

 
 
This article was originally published on the Michigan LCV blog on January 13, 2012. Re-posted with permission. 
by Drew YoungeDyke
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Campfire by the Pigeon River on DNR-managed public land.

Hunters and Anglers Pack the House to Oppose Land Cap Bill
by Drew YoungeDyke

O
n January 10, a Republican state senator presented his public land bill to a room full of hunters and anglers in northern Michigan. Slam dunk, right? Not quite. 

This town hall wasn’t about just any bill; it was about SB 248, the Land Cap Bill, which would restrict the amount of land available for hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and hiking. The citizens at this town hall proved that conservation is not a partisan issue, and that protecting and preserving land for public use transcends party politics. 

Rep. Peter Pettalia (R – Presque Isle) hosted bill sponsor Sen. Thomas Casperson (R – Escanaba) for the town hall in Alpena. Citizens from across Michigan attended, including a large group from Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) who arrived in force, in camo, and informed. Others represented Trout Unlimited, the Pigeon River Country Association, the Quality Deer Management Association, horseback riding groups, township administrators, and, of course, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters

Sen. Casperson first claimed that the Land Cap Bill was a solution to township budget problems due to the underpayment of Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILTs) to local governments, which make up for property tax revenue on public land. However, Rep. Frank Foster (R – Pellston) introduced a bill passed this summer to ensure that all future lands purchased through the Natural Resources Trust Fund would have their PILTs paid in full. When I asked the Senator if he would exempt Trust Fund land from the cap for that very reason, he changed the subject to land use. 

Sen. Casperson spent most of the evening criticizing DNR land management policy, especially how much timber is cleared from state lands. Sen. Casperson ran his family’s log trucking business before running for office, and he introduced a resolution in the fall asking the federal government to allow more logging on federal lands in Michigan. He also criticized preservation land and lands designated for low-impact and non-motorized use. 

However, several citizens expressed to Sen. Casperson that his bill does nothing about DNR land management policies, but only caps the amount of land the DNR can manage. While many in the crowd agreed that the DNR could use a land management plan, few agreed that the Land Cap Bill was a solution.

(Click Here for Video) 

The great thing about a town hall meeting is that you can learn more from the citizens than from the politicians. Since it was obvious that SB 248 was not about township revenue and would not solve any DNR policy issues, many wondered who would actually benefit from the bill. One member of the crowd supplied the answer when he pointed out that the billremoves language from the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) that requires land sold by the DNR to receive fair market value by appraisal. 

The Land Cap Bill would require the state to sell land if it wanted to purchase more after it reached the cap. If a parcel became available in southern Michigan, where there is currently little public land, the DNR would have to sell off land somewhere else, likely in the Upper Peninsula, where timber, paper, and mining companies could acquire it cheaply. Sen. Casperson tried to deny it, but Rep. Pettalia confirmed that is was possible in one of those telling moments when a citizen publicly questions a politician’s assertions. 

Sen. Casperson did write some exceptions to the land cap, including one for current Commercial Forest Act (CFA) lands. Though he claimed this was because CFA lands are currently accessible to hunters, this creates another situation beneficial only to industrial landowners. Under this exception, the only way the DNR could exceed the cap is to purchase land from the timber and paper companies that currently own CFA lands. Do you think those purchases will be at fair market value? 

A land cap would also eliminate the primary purpose of the Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is to purchase state land for recreation. Several citizens voiced concern that politicians would try to dip into the Trust Fund for non-recreational uses. Sen. Casperson said that legislators might use it to maintain trail infrastructure, but not to worry becausethe Trust Fund was protected in the Michigan Constitution. He failed to mention that a constitutional amendment he proposed would use the Trust Fund to build logging and mining roads on state land. Dave Smethurst, a member of Trout Unlimited who helped negotiate the Trust Fund, stood up and told Sen. Casperson that citizens voted the Trust Fund into the Constitution to protect it from legislators! 

(Click Here for Video)
 

The Land Cap Bill is not about township revenues; Sen. Casperson’s refusal to exempt Trust Fund land from the cap is evidence of that. It is not about DNR recreational use policy; more public land will create more places for horseback riders to ride, not less. 

This bill is about timber. It is about opening more land to logging, acquiring cheap land at the expense of Michigan citizens, selling that land back to the state because it will be the only land the state can purchase, and raiding the Trust Fund to build industry roads so that industry won’t have to pay for them. As Sen. Casperson said at the town hall, he’s been a timber man all his life. 

SB 248 has already passed the Senate and is now in the House Committee on Natural Resources, Tourism, and Recreation. If your representative is on this committee, please tell him or her today to scrap the Land Cap Bill! Committee Members: 

Frank Foster (R), Committee Chair, 107th District frankfoster@house.mi.gov

Matt Huuki (R), Majority Vice-Chair, 110th District matthuuki@house.mi.gov

Wayne A. Schmidt (R), 104th District wayneschmidt@house.mi.gov

Kurt Damrow (R), 84th District kurtdamrow@house.mi.gov

Holly Hughes (R), 91st District hollyhughes@house.mi.gov

Joel Johnson (R), 97th District joeljohnson@house.mi.gov

Peter Pettalia (R), 106th District peterpettalia@house.mi.gov

Harold L. Haugh (D), Minority Vice-Chair, 42nd District haroldhaugh@house.mi.gov

Maureen L. Stapleton (D), 4th District maureenstapleton@house.mi.gov

Timothy Bledsoe (D), 1st District timbledsoe@house.mi.gov

Dian Slavens (D), 21st District dianslavens@house.mi.gov  

By Drew YoungeDykeMichigan LCV Project Associate 

 
 
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LANSING – The Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs coalition today released the following statement from spokesman Mark Fisk in response to Rep. Ray Franz’s proposal to repeal Michigan’s renewable energy standard:

“Michigan is already lagging behind on renewable energy – Representative Franz’s ill-conceived plan will send us backwards. Thanks to Michigan’s renewable energy standard, Michigan utilities DTE Energy and Consumers Energy and our energy businesses are creating jobs, sparking economic development across the state and reining in costs for business and consumers.”

Fisk urged Franz to read the report on Michigan’s renewable energy standard released by the Snyder administration’s Michigan Public Service Commission. The report included the following highlights:
  • New renewable energy projects spurred because of the RES sparked more than $100 million in investments 2008-2011. These investments directly benefited Michigan businesses and workers.
  • Clean renewable energy sources cost significantly less than coal per megawatt/hour, with renewables costing $91.19/MWh, compared with $133/MWh for a new coal plant.
  • Michigan is on track to meet the renewable energy standard of 10 percent by 2015
Read the full report at http://www.michigan.gov/mpsc.

Paid for by Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs