LANSING (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which manages millions of acres of land across the state for conservation and recreation, plans to submit a proposal that could lead to the lifting of a state-imposed cap on its future land acquisitions.
The plan is to arrive this month on the desk of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. If the plan is approved, the cap would be lifted statewide. If not, the cap will remain for northern Michigan, above a line running roughly through Clare.
The DNR has until October 2014 to submit its plan to the Legislature.
Earlier this year, DNR officials held a public meeting to explain the land management plan to residents in southeast Michigan. Donna Stine, the department’s policy coordinator, was among those who laid out the plan and she said the concerns of residents vary by region.
“In general, people are saying they don’t want us to get rid of state land,” she said. “In southeast Michigan, they say we don’t have enough places for people to go.”
Last year, Snyder signed a bill that severely constrained Michigan’s ability to acquire more land for public use until a comprehensive plan for managing the property was adopted by May 1, 2015. It set a limit on the state’s holdings of about 4.6 million acres.
At the time, the DNR managed nearly that amount of state forests, wildlife areas, parks and recreation areas, Great Lakes bottomlands and access sites for boating and fishing. Environmental groups opposed the bill, calling it an arbitrary limit on protecting land.
Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, sponsored the legislation that led to the cap, noting that local communities and school districts don’t get enough in payments from the state to make up for the potential loss in tax revenue if the state holds too much land.
Amy Mangus, manager of plan implementation for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, said the process is important because the Detroit area has limited amounts of public land. She is among those on the DNR’s land management strategy advisory committee.
“I think in the future, there will be an increased emphasis on increasing state land acquisition in this region,” Mangus said.
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