Biodiversity bill will hurt Michigan in the long run
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.