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A Thousand No’s on Forest SalePrint

Clean Energy | February 8, 2010 | By Glenn Puit

Berry picking is one activity drawing Oscoda-area residents to state forestland that two local lawmakers and a developer think should be bulldozed into a golf course.

Citizens in Iosco and surrounding counties recently sent more than one thousand signatures to Gov. Jennifer Granholm opposing the attempted forced sale of 475 acres of state forest to a golf course developer.

“We sent approximately 1,200 signatures on the petitions,” said Oscoda Township resident Vicki Good. “I have petitions with 262 more signatures to send.”

The golf course developer, Boyd Stan Aldridge, already owns three golf courses in the township. He wants to build a fourth, but the acreage he wants, state foresters say, isn’t for sale because it is a locally valued piece of land.

That’s where several elected officials come in.

As we reported previously, two lawmakers, Rep. Joel Sheltrown (D-West Branch) and Senator Tony Stamas (R-Midland), are trying to force the state to sell the land to Mr. Aldridge. In fact, the legislators have introduced two bills to force the sale, saying it is a good idea for economic development.

With the fate of the legislation undetermined, Ms. Good and many others have personally wrote the governor, asking her to make sure the heavily used state forest area isn’t plowed over.

“We feel these bills set a very dangerous precedent of selling state land to whoever has the financial means and influence to force such a sale,” she said. “The DNR has been opposed to the sale of this land for many years. It appears the legislators who propose these bills feel they know more about land management than the trained people who work for the DNR.”

“Since our opposition to these bills has become public, we have met many people who currently use this land and are also opposed to the forced land sale,” she told the governor in her letter. “They enjoy the land in a variety of ways…. from hunting of deer, birds, etc. to hiking, berry picking, snowmobile riding, or just taking a ride through the woods to enjoy the quiet and view wildlife.  Many of these people look forward to enjoying their interests with their children and grandchildren. They want their descendents to be able to enjoy this forest. Please do not encourage the legislature to take this enjoyment away from them.”

You can express your opinion on House Bill 5058 and Senate Bill 730. To contact the governor, click here. To contact House Speaker Andy Dillon, click here. To contact Senate leader Mike Bishop, click here.

MLUI is watching this one closely. We’ll update you when there is some action on these legislative bills.

Glenn Puit is a Michigan Land Use Institute policy specialist. Reach him at glenn@mlui.org.