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Posted on Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 7 a.m.

Biodiversity bill will hurt Michigan in the long run

By Guest Column

I am writing to tell you a personal story of why Senate bill 78, the Biodiversity Bill, is bad for Michigan. More importantly to explain why it matters to you personally. First let me give you the basics: Biodiversity saves money, improves economic variety, stabilizes jobs, reduces costs, and prevents large loss in an economic sense.

There was a time before I came to Michigan 12 years ago in which I worked for cities improving the tree population of towns. One day I asked why do we use so many different trees. You see I wasn’t a biologist, I was just a regular worker. They explained that the city didn't want a monoculture. I had no idea what that was.


Here is how it was explained to me. Cities plant a variety of tree species, because there was a time east of the Mississippi - including Michigan, when most cities had beautiful, tree-lined streets with large shady canopies. But they were all Elm trees, and when Dutch Elm disease hit, all the streets lost all of their trees and the shade was gone.

The trees had to be disposed of and even quarantined sometimes. For you and me this is what that actually looks like to a city and to our tax dollars: money spent planting new trees, money spent digging out the stumps, money spent throwing away the dead and dying trees, and on and on and on. That kind of planting makes large areas vulnerable to quick and devastating loss. That is why planting one or two species is a bad idea.

The same is true for forests, lakes and other kinds of ecology. Sure, the forest and other natural resources are more complex and diverse. Plus the connection isn’t in front of my eyes as I go about my regular days. Still the same story holds true there. Biodiversity saves money, improves value, improves variety, and costs less.

Biologists figured this out, and along with other folks working hard throughout the state - with scientific background, they provide value and benefit to us everyday. I mean in concrete dollars and cents. I appreciated the story these folks told me as I worked in other cities out west.

Don’t forget the lesson Michigan taught cities all over America: biodiversity matters. SB 79 is bad legislation that will cost us money in the long run. My fellow Michigan citizens, I am no biologist, but I know biodiversity matters. Just ask the folks that remember the tree-lined streets and how long it took to recover the shade those trees once gave Michigan.

Eric Wingfield is an Ann Arbor resident and a member of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.


Bill Wilson

Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

Putting aside mistakes made by the author and/or, the fact remains: we need to eliminate laws that enable extremists to halt building projects under the false guise of ecology, costing us all billions in the long run. A quick Google search reveals hundreds of pages chock full of examples of this. The phony "sky is falling" environmental con has gone on long enough: our state can take no more of this.

Bill Wilson

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

Bob, I see... so those we elect to study our problems and make decisions about them should take a backseat to an activist, who has little or no accountability. Sorry.... been there, done that; it doesn't work. Let's get back to having one chief per tribe.

Bob Zuruncol

Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Sure, Bill. The DNR would know nothing about this subject. And after all, it wouldn't be the DNR's responsibility for any natural resources or environmental concerns; would it? You can trust the politicians to make the proper sagacious decisions on these matters. They always have our best interests in mind. What could possibly go wrong? Follow the money. See who is lobbying for this.


Sun, Apr 7, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Apparently, it's this (because needs to hire someone who knows how to find state laws, starting with FINDING THE CORRECT STATE): A BILL To amend section 1505.07 of the Revised Code to ban the taking or removal of oil or natural gas from and under the bed of Lake Erie. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF OHIO:


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

Is it SB 78 (first paragraph) or SB 79 (last paragraph) ?


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Thank you Eric for your commentary. I am very concerned about SB78 and have contacted numerous persons in Lansing including the person who originated the bill in the first place attempting to obtain the rationale for this bill. To date, the originator has not responded and no one else has either been willing to state what the background motivations are for this bill or do not know. The bill banning the DNR from continued management of Michigan's lands for no identified reason is chilling. "It jeopardizes almost $22 million in federal funding for forest management and puts Michigan's sustainable forestry certificates that cover 3.9 million acres across the state at risk." As Eric stated the damage that this will cause to our natural resources is beyond affordable on any level. The impact will be felt in all the areas of endeavor that attract toursits to Michigan. Can one guess that some big corporation is behind this - wanting roads built all over to fell the lumber - destroy Michigan's natural resources for short term profits? If not, then I can not imagine why Thomas Casperson has refused to go on record explaining his rationale for this bill.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

Do you guys not proof read your articles before publishing?


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 2 a.m.

Well, you guys are getting geographically closer. Now the link in the piece goes to an OHIO law. What is wrong with you people?

Bill Wilson

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 11 p.m.

What the extreme tree-huggers may not like about this bill is reflected by defining a few important details they would rather they remain ambiguous. Example: ------------------------------------------------------- Sec. 35501. As used in this part: (a) "Biological diversity" means the full range of variety and variability within and among living organisms and the natural associations in which they occur. Biological diversity includes ecosystem diversity, species diversity, and genetic diversity. -------------------------------------------------------- Note the part that states: "and the natural associations in which they occur" Below this, and entire section has been struck-through as related to "diversity created.' --------------------------------------------------------- *this text was struck-through (removed) (b) "Committee" means the joint legislative working committee on biological diversity created pursuant to section 35504. ----------------------------------------------------------- Simply put: this bill limits diversity to 'naturally occurring species and ecosystems": No more of opening a hose for a few hours, and then declaring the area a 'wetlands,' or planting a few different trees and declaring the area a protected ecosystem. Can the reader see now why they don't like the bill. ;)

Basic Bob

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

The loss of street trees has absolutely nothing to do with this bill. What if a third of the trees were elms that succumbed to Dutch Elm disease, while the remaining thirds were ash trees (emerald ash borers) and Bradford pears (storm damage)? All of the trees would still need to be replaced. Forests can serve different needs, one of which is timber production. Limited diversity is necessary in areas designated for timber, and it is clear to me that the author of the bill hopes to keep the DNR biodiversity goals out of these specific forests. I think this is reasonable. Biodiversity goals can continue to be met in the other forests where the land is not perpetually logged.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

People lament the mighty elms (which I remember well) and more recently the ash trees. They were good examples of a monoculture. But the one we should be most concerned about is the monoculture of our modern farming. Look at what we plant as a nation - corn and soybeans. No biodiversity allowed. Now, to combat the devastating effects of doing that we allow the chemical companies to poison us and the very ground we grow our food in. You are what you eat.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

For all the less than nice comments about his writing,and links. I'm seeing a nice discussion on this very Bill #78 or #79..with opinions and more information being put forth. So hats off to the writer for opening a discussion on the importance of diversity in our environment.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Why in the world was this opinion posted to this blog?

Top Cat

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

So in the spirit of "biodiversity" is the virtuous thing for me to continue engaging in mortal combat with the phragmites that are taking over my wetland.....or......let them be?

Dirty Mouth

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

According to a number of experts, Senate Bill 79 means to curtail future considerations of bio-diversity by putting in place legislation now that would in effect clear the road for big corporations to set up shop without having to consider their potential impact on the environment, e.g. bio-diversity and would render the DNR impotent from voicing their future concern. What is particularly odd about this proposed Senate Bill 79, is that it is sponsored by Republican Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba (no surprise) and seems like overkill given that biodiversity concerns have not stopped a single project or business from setting up shop thus far in Michigan; we have renewed mining operations in the U.P., two new coal fired power plants being built, so this Bill make no sense. If comes up, vote no please.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

Dirty Mouth - The UP has been hard hit by the rules that were put in place by Governor Granholm and her cabinet. The logging and paper industries lost access to a lot of land in the UP over biodiversity. I am not surprised the UP wants this Troll mentality removed from their communities.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

That was 90 seconds of my time I'll never get back. Links bad. Article never explains the point.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

More on this bill: It has not yet been passed by the house.

Tom Urich

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Thank You! These links are two articles which are NOT politically motivated by one side or another. But they do bring up the issues pro and con and mention that the DNR is neutral on the issue and is not "reeling from losing 100 years of progress" and all the other fanatical anti-corporate rhetoric. Most trees don't live 100 years in a perfect setting anyway - touched by man or chainsaw notwithstanding - and the efforts to draw commission reports from the very "victims" of this bill makes most of the liberal claims moot.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

So if biodiversity is a good thing why did the county spend so much time and effort tearing out all those "non native" trees at the County Farm Park? They totally ruined the seclusion of the north edge of the park and woods that abut Washtenaw. I don't get it.

Steve Bean

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Brad, non-native plants out-compete native ones in many circumstances, thereby reducing biodiversity—the native plants themselves and the native fauna that evolved with them.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Yes, this is a lousy column that doesn't give the proper information about SB78, not SB79. SB78 is a bill that was sponsored by Tom Casperson which strips many powers away from the DNR and puts those powers in the hands of politicians. It is all done to open new tracts of previously protected lands to the logging industry which underwrites most of Casperson's campaigns. This is bad legislation that strips power from the agency that is trying to preserve and protect our natural heritage.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

"HUGE tracts of lands!"


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

I will add that the worst part of this bill is that it "requires that forest management plans and operations comply with VOLUNTARY SILVICULTURAL PRACTICES", instead of applicable federal and state laws. Silvicultural practices is the term that the lumbering industry uses to allow them to maximize their clear cutting policies.

Dog Guy

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

Michigan 78 would "remove biological diversity from list of state forest management goals" which clearly is another Republican attack on affirmative action.

Tom Urich

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

Can you explain how this "clearly" is an attack on Affirmative Action? Or are you being facetious?

Tom Urich

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

Here is the corrected link to the M-Live story:

Tom Urich

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

There are a couple of things going sideways here. First of all, it is not MI Senate Bill 79 - It is MI Senate Bill 78. Here is a link: Secondly, I can echo what many have already said about the awkward argument posed, but more so, we need to understand that this was actually a discussion running almost a month ago when the bill was actually passed.. Reference M-Live here: There are contrivances about the lumbering industry and other political rhetoric which is not focused on anything but mud-slinging, and it is merely disguised attacks on the opposing point of view and against our Governor. Sad and weak, I'm afraid.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

SemperFi - The politicizing of the natural resources was done decades ago. In the Granholm years, very large tracts of forest were bought from private owners and put off limits to logging - to create biodiversity zones. Thousands of loggers and other workers in the UP ended up with no jobs. The State and Federal Governments own much of the land in the UP now, and because of that the tax bases are tiny for many communities and school districts, they pay a pittance to local government units (this is far worse than having the UofM in Ann Arbor, because much of this land generates no revenue at all - not even tourism). This bill mostly puts things back where they were in 2000, other than the land ownership.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1 p.m.

Yes, it's a poorly written column. And SB78 is a terrible piece of legislation that politicizes our natural resources and takes forest management out of the hands of the agency that regulates it.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

If Rebekah Warren is not happy with the law it must be a good one..................


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

Brilliant reasoning, by which I should thus conclude, based on your comment in blanket condemnation of Warren, that the bill is probably a bad one.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

Amen brother.

Rick Stevens

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

Just more junk legislation coming out of our crazy legislature. Can more Sharia legislation be far behind? Time to get some intelligent adults elected and the Republicans sent packing.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

The GOP loves enacting laws that benefit very few people. IE: their "buddies". Handling bear cubs in the U.P.....of course! It benefited one business owner....

Usual Suspect

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

The adult supervision that the Republicans are proving is greatly needed. Yeah, they're not perfect, but going back to the other crowd would be disastrous.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 11:56 a.m. we can return to the " good ol'e days " of Jenny


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

The first paragraph, besides having obvious typos, isn't very convincing. How, exactly, does biodiversity save money and stabilize jobs? For a persuasive writing piece, it does an awful job at giving concrete facts and citing resources.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

I think it saves money in the event that a disease wipes out your entire tree population, compared to only a small section thanks to the wonders of biodiversity.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

MICHIGAN's Sentate Bill 79 specifically removes "biodiversity" from forest management practices by the DNR - specifically the designation of land for biodiversity purposes. it is a politically motivated attempt to micromanage the DNR that is all political dogma and zero science. Eric is correct its a bad bill.


Sun, Apr 7, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

"it is a politically motivated attempt to micromanage the DNR that is all political dogma and zero science." That means it'll sail through Michigan's Republican-controlled legislature...


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

the link in the article is wrong and points to a connecticut bill. use "Michigan Senate Bill 79" in a google search


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

I started reading the bill and all I saw was about discrimination .What line of the bill is it that refers to the DNR


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

Perhaps I'm just stupid or it's too early but I read the link to Senate bill 79 ( not a clue what it has to do with biodiversity ) and the writer seems to saying in one breath it's bad and the next breath it's great.Can someone please help me understand this

Bill Wilson

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

No.... you're not. That was my take, too. It's a very confusing piece. The author and/or editor should either augment the piece, or take it down.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

First, it would be helpful if this opinion essay included a short sentence or two of what the bill is, and even more importantly, explained what specifically is bad about the bill. All that seems to be in this opinion is an explanation of what biodiversity is and why it's good. Second, please check the links. I realize that the link to the bill is supposed to substitute for even a brief helpful explanation of what Senate bill 79 is, but in this case the link to Senate bill #79 points to Connecticut's bill #79, which is "AN ACT CONCERNING UNEMPLOYED INDIVIDUALS AND DISCRIMINATORY HIRING PRACTICES." How it could be missed that this doesn't even point to Michigan's bill is beyond me as "ct" is right in the URL.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 1:57 a.m.

I'd laugh if this were April 1, but seriously, As I type this, I see that the link in the article was updated to OHIO's bill 78? (